Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images Photo: Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson at the American Idol Top 12 Finalists Party in Los Angeles on March 10, 2004

Ad agencies pay close attention to how you spend your couch time. According to Forbes, television ad spots are purchased before a show even premieres — turning commercial buys into quite the risky gamble. As such, most ad agencies only spend the big bucks on shows with proven track records — like American Idol, now in its eleventh season. But there was one show that raked in tons of ad buys for its first season: Simon Cowell’s USA arm of The X Factor.

According to Forbes’ new list of the shows with highest ad revenues per half hour, The X Factor USA brought in $5.55 million per half our during its freshman year. This might be due to Simon’s public boasting (prior to the Season 1 premiere) that he believed the show would net more than 20 million viewers each week. Those lofty expectations turned out to be just that, with weekly audiences averaging somewhere in the 12.4 million range.

“Advertisers were like people lining up to buy an iPad on the first day it comes out,” says Jon Swallen, head of research at Kantar Media, a market research firm, of The X Factor’s huge ad sales. “With the benefit of hindsight, they overpaid.”

Source: Forbes

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