Big Four Lo$e Debates

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Democracy is expensive. Just ask the networks. Whoever won the first presidential debate, the big losers were the "Big Four," to the tune of $61.4 million.

Last week’s Bush-Kerry exchange aired Thursday night from 9 to 11 p.m., an ad-revenue jackpot. According to Brad Adgate of Horizon Media, that’s when networks collect 30%-40% of all prime time revenue.

Industry estimates suggest that by forgoing The Apprentice and ER, NBC probably gave away $32.5 million. CBS’s CSI and Without a Trace could have netted $20.1 million. And ABC’s Life As We Know It and Primetime Thursday might have landed $5.2 million.

Fox sacrificed $3.6 million for Tru Calling. (These figures were generated using ad rates and average number of spots aired per hour.)
To offset its losses, NBC bumped up Thursday star The Apprentice to Wednesday at 9 p.m. CBS aired a repeat of CSI in the same timeslot.

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