How Much Does Watching Television Cost?

Network TV would appear to have no costs other than the cost of the electricity required to view it. But since corporations spend billions of dollars annually to place advertisements on television, these costs must somehow be offset by the added revenues generated by these ads.

Assume that I am your typical American earning median wages. On average, how much does each hour of watching television end up costing me, in terms of subsequent purchases that I otherwise would not have made?

I realize that there is an ‘opportunity cost’ because there are other things I could be doing instead of watching TV, but for the sake of argument let’s assume that I would otherwise be doing nothing productive with my time. How much does it cost me to watch television?


According to this article TV companies receive $4,790,000,000 revenue from sports shows. There are 288,000,000 people in the USA.

That works out at around $16 a year per person if my math is working today.