Cable shows with the wealthiest viewers

Nearly half of 'Mad Men' households make more than $100K

Two-time drama series Emmy winner "Mad Men" returned to AMC on Sunday night after a whirlwind of previews and promotions in print, broadcast and online.

Despite all the attention and the show's affluent viewership, "Mad Men" has averaged far fewer viewers than other summer cable dramas like USA's "Burn Notice," and ad rates also are lower.

An average 30-second spot on first-run episodes of "Mad Men" fetches about $20,000-$25,000, according to a recent trade media report -- not much, but it is a multiple of AMC's primetime movies. Plus, AMC bets that marquee shows boost its visibility, image and value.

"Shows like this help improve their branding, which increases their value to multichannel operators," SNL Kagan analyst Derek Baine said. "They are hoping with more original high-profile programming, they can increase license fees."

Ratings for Sunday's Season 4 premiere of "Mad Men" are expected Monday.