Harry Potter and the Pot of Cash: Nielsen Tallies It Up

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Since 1998, when the first Harry Potter book hit the shelves, advertising spending on everything Potter-related has totaled &269.1 million in the U.S. alone, according to Nielsen, which issued a wide ranging survey Tuesday of the impact of the books on the business of TV, movies, and publishing. The newest movie debuts at a minute after midnight Tuesday night (Dec. 10).

Nielsen did not break out the money spent on TV advertising, but it did note that the movies have shown up on the small screen a whopping 366 times since 2002, though the ratings have been a case of diminishing returns, mirroring the fate of movies on TV in general in an age of DVD's and downloadable flicks.

The first film, The Sorcerer's Stone, was the most-viewed TV airing, with 11.08 million viewers for its 2004 appearance on ABC. The next film, Chamber of Secrets, drew 7.76 million viewers for ABC in 2005, while the next, The Prisoner of Azkaban, attracted 6.075 viewers to the network in 2006. Sorcerer's Stone re-aired on ABC in April of this year, drawing 4.2 million viewers. A Potter movie's most recent cable airings, on Disney Channel, averaged about 2.8 million viewers.

According to Nielsen, $68.5 million has been spent to advertise the Potter DVD's, but with those trending down as well, starting with $22.5 million to promote the first, which dropped to about $15 million for the subsequent titles.

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