BIA Sees Local Political Advertising Topping $6.5B

The 2020 election will generate more than $6.5 billion in local political ad spending, according to a new estimate from BIA Advisory Services.

Over-the-air television will get 47% of local political spending, or $3.08 billion. The next biggest share will go to online and digital outlets with $1.37 billion, representing a 21% share.

Multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) will see $919 million in spending, or 14% and radio will get $312 million or 4.8%, with the remainder going to other media.

“It’s going to be a very interesting political year where some very large markets will not see much in political advertising while some small markets will see an extraordinary amount of advertising due to competitive Gubernatorial, Senate and House races along with the Presidential election,” said Mark Fratrik, chief economist and senior VP, BIA Advisory Services. “Campaigns will continue to rely on television as a dominant platform for advertising while supplementing with digital advertising across mobile and desktop.”

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Fratlik said that BIA did not have directly comparable figures for political ad revenue for 2018 and 2016, but he estimates that over-the-air spending in 2020 will be within $100 million of those earlier election years.

“The dollar amounts going to online/digital continues to increase so I think that the total amount expected for 2020 will be higher than in either of those two years,” he said.

The market generating the most local political advertising in 2020 is expected to be Los Angeles with $368 million in spending. L.A. TV stations are expected to rake in $168 million during the election, with digital getting $76 million, cable getting $55 million and radio 17%.

Spending in California could be impacted by that state moving its primary to March, earlier than in previous years.

Phoenix is expected to be the No. 2 market with $280 million in spending, $156 million of which will go to over-the-air TV, $61 million to digital, $42 million to cable and $6 million for radio.

The third-biggest political market is Philadelphia with $259 million in spending forecast by BIA. Philly stations are expected to get $135 million in election spending, with $57 million going to digital, $36 million to cable and $8 million to radio. 

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.