California Votes For Cable

A recent study of California registered voters underscored the importance of political advertising on cable, and not in the most obvious places.

A recent study by The Tarrance Group showed that registered voters in the state watched cable programming by a two-to-one margin over broadcast, and the majority of the content viewed was non-news programming.

According to Tarrance Group, pay television reaches about 90% of homes in the state with television. When asked specifically about news programming, almost half had indicated they had watched less than one-hour of news in the past 48 hours. In addition, Tarrance claims that viewers of non-news programming are just the group that political advertisers strive to reach: swing voters and those that identify themselves as voting in major elections every two or four years.

"Recognizing that a majority of political messages are motivational to increase turnout among the base or persuasive to draw in new supporters, this research confirms that advertisement placement must include a mix of both news and non-news programming to reach the widest pool of voters and cable programming offers strong opportunity for targeting specific voter types," Tarrance Group vice president Katie Handel said in a statement.

Breaking out the numbers, Tarrance said that regardless of the service available in their homes, 62% of respondents said they watch more cable content while 29% said they watch more broadcast. About 43% said they watch "much more" cable content with 16% saying they watched much more broadcast.

When asked what type of programming voters watch most frequently, 35% indicate they watch news, followed by entertainment (27%); sports (17%); and lifestyle (12%). The remaining 8% said they watched Spanish language, movies, educational, history, or religious programming most often.

Cable viewers also spend more time in front of the TV set. According to Tarrance, 20% of registered voters indicate they watch one or less hours of television a day, 50% watch two to three hours, and 28% watch four or more hours per day. Cable and satellite subscribers are twice as likely to be high frequency television viewers (4 or more hours) compared to their broadcast only counterparts, Tarrance said.

At Cox Communications, which provides cable service in Orange County and San Diego, Calif., the data highlights the importance of cable in the political process.

"The Tarrance Group study demonstrates the ability of cable advertising to effectively reach broad and targeted audiences," Brian Davis, vice president of national sales for Cox Media, said. "Cox has a comprehensive portfolio of advertising products, including traditional spots as well as long-form video on demand and other interactive formats that foster a deeper level of engagement with voters during this very competitive mid-term election season."