NBC to cash in on 'Friends' finale

MUMBAI: It's called making hay while the sun shines. The final episode of Friends, to be telecast by the end of this fall in the US, will cost advertisers two million dollars for a 30 second spot. By far one of the most popular shows on NBC, the Friends final episode is also to be extended from the usual 30 minutes to two hours.

Consequently, the commercial breaks on the Friends final will be the most expensive ever for a non-sports programme. NBC, say media reports, is asking advertisers for the kind of money usually reserved for the biggest event in the US broadcasting calendar, the Super Bowl, which attracts a 100 million viewers and costs advertisers up to three million dollars for a 30-second ad. 

Needless to say, the two-hour finale to the 10th and final series of Friends will be one of the most hyped entertainment programmes in TV history and NBC is setting its ad rates accordingly. Currently, the show attracts 20 million viewers and ad spots on the show sell for $ 450,000. Friends is setting a record even by extending the finale into a two hour episode. In May 1998, when Seinfeld - then America's most popular TV comedy - reached the end of its run, the hour-long finale was a national event attracting more than 80 million viewers. Friends is likely to receive similar viewer attention, say media watchers.

NBC has also decided to ask viewers to vote for their six favourite episodes and will broadcast them in the weeks leading up to the finale next May.

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