As Election Day nears closer, broadcast networks and cable companies are seeing a rush of advertising dollars pour in from political campaigns. Specifically, cable channels have been reaping the benefits of Mitt Romney’s first presidential debate performance that significantly tightened the race. As reported in the New York Post, the cable industry totaled $330 million in 2008, the last presidential election year. Considering the results of the first presidential debate and the fact that political ad spending is on its way to jump 67% this election cycle, analysts have now boosted their original estimation of $467 million for the cable industry to $550 million.
These numbers pale in comparison to the political ad spending in the broadcast sector, which is expected to reach $3 billion, up from the recorded $2.1 billion in 2008. However, according to the New York Post, the broadcaster’s share of the estimated 2012 total of $5.45 billion in political ad spending is roughly the same this year, whereas cable is gaining share. This gain has been largely due to local cable channels, which allow the candidates to target specific markets and demographics, such as Hispanics with a certain income level.
The article further states that many political ads are being placed on non-news cable networks, including TNT, USA, A&E, History, HGTV, E!, and Food Network. Above all, politicians are turning to ESPN to reach the young male demographic. NCC media, for example, purchased a package of ads from ESPN for $3 million, which the company will resell to political ad buyers.
The chart below, courtesy of Borrell Associates, illustrates the differences in share percentage across all sectors from 2008 and 2012. From the chart, we see that cable is gaining share at the expense of newspapers and direct mail.