Radio Advertisers Rush Out On Rush, But TV Might Cause Bigger Damage


Rush Limbaugh’s remarks that caused big advertisersto pull sponsorship came on his long-time syndicated radio show. Similar stuff has happened to other broadcasters on radio and TV.

After days of news coverage, one wonders how much bigger damage there would have been had Limbaugh made the same "slut" remark about a Georgetown University student on his nationally syndicated TV talk show that ran between 1992 and 1996?

Things would have been worse. TV shows typically have a higher presence -- and are more easily repeated. Throw in today’s fuel of social media, and you’d have a bigger fire.

We know this. Big TV ratings still draw advertisers -- even with controversy attached. What remains is a smaller list of marketers, typically ones with lower content criteria issues.  Since Limbaugh's remarks, and theoretically his apology, almost 30 advertisers have fled his radio show.



In TV, shows can get access to several hundred higher profile national advertisers and of course, many more advertisers who can buy local time. From the national point of view, a misplaced remark here or there can drop that potential list of advertisers to around 90 or 100.  What is left are many direct, per-inquiry and Internet marketers who have lower content qualifications. Hello,

From a business point of view, I'm sure that Limbaugh’s handlers are looking at this as a somewhat difficult period -- but not the end.

Think about Glenn Beck on Fox News. He lost a bunch of advertisers for the sometimes crazy things he said on air, such as calling the President a "racist." It wasn't until well afterwards that his big 2 million-plus viewers started to drift lower. That's when Fox News executives did the math and realized there was little to no upside in keeping him.

Limbaugh's numbers are still very big on radio. He would need to fall pretty far before his syndicator and local stations would mull a change. But on TV, still a bigger stage than radio, this kind of ratings entropy has a shorter time span.

2 comments about "Radio Advertisers Rush Out On Rush, But TV Might Cause Bigger Damage ".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, March 7, 2012 at 8:13 p.m.

    But 30 advertisers did NOT flee his show. Most of them were radio ad buyers who specified their radio advertising (when bought in flights or run-of-schedule) should not air within his program, which is not the same as being a show sponsor. The number of actual show sponsors who defected is very tiny, and a couple of them already want to return (after a backlash from Limbaugh loyalists). And if you need more evidence that this brouhaha has run its course, be aware that Bill Maher today defended Rush, tweeting "Hate to defend #RushLimbaugh but he apologized, liberals looking bad not accepting. Also hate intimidation by sponsor pullout."

  2. Sheldon Senzon from JMS Media, Inc., March 8, 2012 at 12:39 p.m.

    Wayne, I read your posts on a consistent basis and agree almost all the time. Must take exception with this one.
    Back in the day when Rush was on TV this would have disappeared by now. True, TV reach was far greater than what he currently experiences with Radio but there was no Social Media then. The major national sponsors that recently defected did so for a number of reasons, influence of Social Media being at or near the top of the list. They carefully checked comments on their Facebook pages and the like and said this has bcome a NO GO. The end (as in benefit of advertising on Rush's show) will never justify the means. I think back to O.J. Simpson in the 1980's and early 1990's, how many execs at NBC knew of his antics regarding abuse, etc? I know personally there were many who just looked the other way. Fast forward to 2000 or so and organizations such as N.O.W. would have put Hertz out of business as a result of their association with an alleged abuser and murder. Factor in Social Media if it had been in existence, the process would have been swifter and included more companies such as NBC, etc.

    Just wanted to share my thoughts on your post, keep up the good work, I enjoy reading them.

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