Analyst: Political Ad Spending Falling Short

With October in the books, political TV ad spending looks like it will come in under the bullish expectations when the campaign began, according to analyst Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research Group.

“We can safely say that total spending for the year will likely end up around up 10% for the full year versus 2014, which would suggest that 2016 will involve less total political spending relative to the last Presidential election year of 2012,” Wieser said in a report issued Tuesday.

Among the biggest station group, October political spending was down 5% versus 2014, leaving the year-to-date total up 12%.

Different station groups have had wildly different Octobers, according to the advertising analytics data cited by Wieser. Political spending was up 22% at ABC stations and up 90% at the stations owned by NBC. CBS stations were up 4% and Fox stations were down 21%.

Among independent groups, Sinclair was up 19%, Tribune was up 2%, Media General was down 34%, Tegna was down 33% and Meredith was down 9%.

This year’s election has been anomalous in a lot of ways, and political spending could snap back during the 2020 campaign, Wieser noted.

“Despite the weak levels of political advertising spending that occurred this cycle relative to expectations that were present at its beginning, investors may choose to be mindful that spending will likely return to higher levels in 2020. Of course, this presumes a resumption of ‘normalcy’ in the political landscape, which may yet turn out to be an optimistic expectation,” he said.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.