So far, the best year was the presidential election year 2012 , when $3.1 billion was spent.
Next year, the 2016 presidential race, we can expect another record. And we already have a good head start. Those crazy political ad spending guys, the Koch brothers, are already planning to spend $889 million through their associated political action committees By way of comparison, in 2012, the Kochs’ network spent just under $400 million -- then an incredible total.
Some are estimating 2016 might see a “4” or“5” in front of the “billion” word when all is said and done. Looking at the previous numbers, this might not sound so far-fetched. In 2010, the mid-term election political season tracked just over $2 billion in ad spend -- which grew around 50% by 2012.
The downside for TV stations is that they need to offer the lowest unit price for politicians. Also, during the political season, year-in, year-out marketers in the automotive, retail, and financial categories can get pushed aside when it comes to media placement.
Still the positives outweigh the negatives. That projected $5 billion would amount to 25% of some $21 billion in total local TV revenue in 2016, according to a number of estimates. By way of comparison, the $3.1 billion political advertising level in 2012 was set against a $20 billion total in 2012: a 15% share
Now TV stations must hope their multi-hour daily local news programming -- long a place that political candidates and PAC money find comfortable -- will continue to yield stable viewership.