U.S. political TV advertising up 68% over 2008

Michelle Clancy | 02-11-2012

As the election cycle draws to a close and the Presidential election looms for Tuesday 6 November in the United States, SNL Kagan estimates that TV political ad revenue is on pace for a 68% growth over the 2008 election season.

According to the research firm's most recent projections, this year's TV station political advertising revenue is expected to increase to $2.6 billion, a 68% increase over the 2008 total of $1.6 billion. The key swing states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, predictably have emerged as the political battleground for 2012 presidential election spending. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign has outspent President Barack Obama in TV and radio advertising in these states, with well over half a billion dollars already spent with local broadcasters. As the election approaches, political revenue projections will be put to the test as the presidential candidates compete in local markets to close the gap on much-needed electoral votes.

SNL Kagan also estimates that 80% of political revenues were generated in the second half of each of the last three election years, with roughly 60% of the total coming in during the fourth quarter alone. If this holds true this year, the top 10 publicly held TV broadcast affiliate groups will see a 57.5% average increase in political revenue over 2008. Total political revenue for these groups would be $625.3 million, a 41.9% increase from $440.5 million in 2008.

SNL Kagan also predicts that the ever-increasing political spend on local TV stations will lead to even greater disparity between even- and odd-year revenues over time.

Meanwhile, a more granular analysis across TV station owners in the second quarter by SNL Kagan shows that over all, Journal Communications Inc. should see the highest growth vs. 2008, while E.W. Scripps Co. could realise the second-highest percentage growth in political revenues. However, consistent with the second quarter results and trajectories, Gray Television should lead the pack in total revenue based on these projections.