News Network Ad Prices Jump Election Night: SQAD

John King will be counting votes on CNN's election night coverage (Image credit: CNN)

With millions of Americans expected to tune in to see who will be president for the next four years, news networks are getting big bucks for commercials during their election night coverage.

According to preliminary numbers from SQAD MediaCosts: National Data, CNN is getting $231,000 per 30-second spot and MSNBC is getting $125,000. SQAD did not have data on how much Fox News was getting for its commercials.

That's nearly triple what ads cost during when votes were counted in 2016. Four years ago election night commercials on CNN cost $92,687, spots on MSNBC were $52,496 and ads on Fox News fetched $82,319.

The rates are much higher than prime time in a non-election year. For 2017, SQAD reports that the average for a prime time spot on the first Tuesday in November cost $10,200 on Fox News, $8,300 on CNN and $4,200 on MSNBC.

Even during the last mid-term election, commercial prices rose. For election night 2018, Fox News’ prime time ads were $71,614, five times higher than the prime time rate the year before. CNN’s rates were five times higher at $45,600 and MSNBC got $25,572 per spot, six times higher than the comparable hour in 2017.

Advertising during political years has always been a double-edged sword for many advertisers. They are wary of being caught up in controversy but crave the big audiences that tune in for politics, especially this year when the public is following the campaign more closely than ever before and turning out in record numbers to vote.

Local TV station owners are also reporting record levels of political advertising pouring in, especially those with stations in swing states.

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.