ESPN wants in. Other cable networks do too. Food Network and HGTV will continue to zig while they zag.
With well-funded presidential candidates and their boosters, ESPN has a deal to sell time to rep firm NCC Media, which will then use it to land political dollars in local markets. ESPN ad sales chief Ed Erhardt told the Wall Street Journal there’s a "great demand" building from "political parties and the super PACs."
But there’s another approach that could help a cable network PAC pull in some dollars: forget campaign money and focus on luring all those advertisers bumped off local stations because of the massive spending load.
During the height of campaign season, candidates and other politically motivated advertisers are so eager to get on air -- particularly in heavily contested states -- that their huge spending can leave others on the sidelines.
While individual candidates can benefit from a “lowest unit rate” charge, political parties and outside interest groups (such as super PACs) don’t have any pricing benefit. And their willingness to pay top dollar can have stations displacing retailers, auto marketers and others.
So, national advertisers buying a slew of local markets might be persuaded to find similar rating points on cable outlets. Scripps Networks Interactive, the parent of Food Network and HGTV, will be there waiting. If not actively wooing them.
“Since we purposely don't take political advertising, that should help drive some demand towards our channels and help support pricing,” said Scripps Networks President John Lansing on a conference call this week.
Of course, politicians who feel they absolutely must reach Food Network viewers have an option: they can buy time from local cable operators. Which might save them from having to engage in retail politics by visiting so many diners, drive-ins and dives.