More details on Top Gear at Nine next year and I’m afraid I stuffed up with the estimate yesterday of $100,000 an episode.

Try $450,000.

It is very, very expensive for a TV network that will be struggling to pay its way in 2010 when it has to resume paying interest on the $3.8 billion of debt. Nine has a two year, 10 eps a year deal with BBC Worldwide, or around $9 million. It has bought series 2 to 13, most of which have already been seen and paid the BBC a substantial fee to get it away from SBS (this is on top of the per ep costs). The first series won’t be seen until the second half of 2010.

Will it make a profit? No-one can tell. Why Nine wanted it is that it delivers a strong male audience, which are harder to reach than females. But the program (as seen in the ratings on SBS) has a substantial female audience of around 35%. Most are in the 16 to 49 groups. This is the prime TV audience these days, especially younger males.

Nine has told its sales groups to approach media buyers with clients who look for male audiences. Nine will try to convince then to lift their allocations for its programs and then Nine will allocate the ads from each clients from the buying groups, to the programs. Grog advertisers are out, as will be some car companies. Car insurance is OK as will be car care, travel, sports related products and drinks. Superannuation, banks and other financials will be OK.

The programs are not sold on a per minute or half minute cost, unless it’s a casual or spot ad bought at the last minute outside existing buying deals. What Nine has to do though is ensure the demographics being bought, are delivered in terms of ratings and audience share.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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