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Big Jump in Cable Spending By Presidential Hopefuls Seen

Political ad spending by Presidential candidates on cable systems has more than so far this year, according to Viamedia, which represents multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) in 72 markets including many battleground states.

Viamedia said that the spending increase is being driven by the billionaires in the race, with the Mike Bloomberg campaign accounting for 64% of spending by presidential candidates and Tom Steyer’s campaign accounting for about 16%.

Senator Amy Klobuchar’s spending was about 6%, followed by Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 4%, President Trump, Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren had each spent less than 3% with former VP Joe Biden at less than 1%.

The dynamics of the race changed suddenly in the past few days with Steyer, Klobuchar and Buttigieg dropping out.

About $10 billion is expected to be spent on political advertising in 2020, according to estimates.

Viamedia said 2020 had started off differently than the 2016 campaign, when issue advertising had the highest share of spending on cable at 40%, followed by the presidential campaigns at 26%. Candidates for U.S. Senate spent 16%, congressional candidates spent 18%. The proportions were similar in 2012, Viamedia said.

For 2020, presidential candidates account for 47% of the total, with issue advertising totaling 34%. Senate races took up 10% and congressional races were 9%.

“It used to be the case that issues advertising, largely by PACs, was emerging as the dominant category of political advertising -- but the Bloomberg spending, especially, has flipped the script, at least for this cycle thus far,” said Viamedia CEO Mark Lieberman.

“These are early numbers and nearly two-thirds of cable TV political ad spending in a presidential-election year materializes between Labor Day and Election Day,” Lieberman added. “Nevertheless, our trending data indicate the local cable TV industry, bolstered by attractive geo-targeting capabilities and popular, curated content, will once again see a record year for political advertising. Given Mayor Bloomberg’s promise to continue spending regardless of his own candidacy, this level of spending growth should hold.”

Jon Lafayette
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.