Political candidates are increasingly turning to sports to reach viewers and voters, according Viamedia, which sells advertising for cable TV operators.
Viamedia said spending on linear cable and related digital networks in sports programming is likely to reach, if not exceed, the record levels seen during the 2022 presidential election year and triple the spending during the last midterm election in 2018.
In 2020, political spending in sports programming grew 170% from the 2018 levels.
Among sports-oriented networks ESPN is the leader in generating local political ad revenue for operators. Spending around baseball on Fox Sports 1 and TBS has more than tripled in 2022 compared to 2018.
"Spending around sports programming on cable and connected TV has proven a winner for candidates and political action committees looking to reach a broad cross-section of voters," said Viamedia CEO David Soloman. "It aggregates an undeniably large audience spanning demographics and interests – and the audiences are watching live and are engaged. We think we’ll match the 2020 record this year and beat it in 2024."
Spending on sports, though growing, is eclipsed by cable news.
"The 800-pound gorilla in political ad spending on cable continues to be Fox News, followed by CNN, with other news nets distantly following. Noteworthy is that, while news net political ad spend is increasing, sports in particular has taken off as a category of programming drawing political dollars," said Solomon. ■
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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.