Alternative Things to Buy for the Absurdly High ‘Empire’ Ad-Space Price

TV STILL -- DO NOT PURGE -- EMPIRE: (L-R): Trai Byers as Andre Lyon, Taraji Henson as Cookie Lyon, Terrence Howard as Lucious Lyon, Jussie Smollett as Jamal Lyon and Trai Byers as Andre Lyon. ©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Michael Lavine/FOX

TV’s most expensive family. (photo: Michael Lavine/FOX)

I’m not sure if anyone out there knows this yet, but FOX’s hip-hop soap opera Empire is popular. It broke pretty much every TV ratings convention possible in its inaugural season — including a 23-year-old record — until it wasn’t even a conversation anymore between which of the Big 4 networks had the next smash hit on its hands.

So it is no surprise that advertisers have taken notice, and in a big way. Adage reports that advertisers are paying FOX upwards of $500,000 for 30 seconds of commercial time during Empire‘s sophomore season. Only 30 seconds. All the ad time blocked for the September 23 premiere is already sold out, buyers are reporting.

Not since American Idol’s 2011 season has a non-sports broadcast reached this high a price tag. The only show to come close was The Big Bang Theory last year, with CBS offering $344,827 for a 30-second spot.

Now, I’m not saying you, or I, or any individual person is going to drop half a million dollars on 30 seconds of TV time, unless you really, really need to promote your Tumblr. Corporations are massive cash factories with mind-blowing funds in their marketing departments to spend on this kind of thing. I get it. But 30 seconds is such a short amount of time for $500,000! No, no that won’t do. Here are five much better things to sink that amount of cash into:

  • Empire‘s central conflict revolves around the Lyon family — Lucious, Cookie, Andre, Jamal, and Hakeem. Five Lyons. Which is cool, but for 30 seconds of Empire ad time you can own FIVE ACTUAL LIONS. According to, the initial cost plus annual care fees for a big cat are roughly 100,000.
  • A major corporation could, in theory, use $500,000 to buy 30 seconds of Empire viewers’ attention. OR, they could use that money to give every single person who still watches reruns of Empire six months after the finale one dollar.
  • The plot of Empire is kick-started when Lucious Lyon, Empire Records owner, discovers he has ALS. Speaking of which, do you think Lucious Lyon would appreciate a 30-second commercial, or an entire year of ALS treatment?
  • Empire is set in New York. For $500,000, you could rent the entire 39th floor of the Pierre Hotel on 5th Avenue for a month. Those two things are barely even related but come on, $500,000 for 30 seconds is such a crazy high price.
  • You can instantly buy the song Drip Drop by Hakeem Lyon roughly 500,000 times on ITunes, which hopefully crashes the servers enough to make it un-buy-able for others. Which would be a public service. Because somewhere in the middle of the record breaking ratings and the dedicated fandom and the inescapable buzz, people seemed to miss the fact that Drip Drop is an ungodly, terrible song.
Alternative Things to Buy for the Absurdly High ‘Empire’ Ad-Space Price