The Hillary Clinton campaign has reserved over $8 million in TV ad time targeting coverage of the Olympic Games during the 17-day period of sporting events in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, per SMG Delta data.
Conversely, Donald Trump has spent next to nothing on TV advertising since May. So far, he has no time reserved for the remaining weeks of summer or for the fall.
The Olympic Games is the biggest TV event of the year. In 2012, around 217 million Americans watched the London Olympics, which turned out to be the biggest event in United States TV history.
While the Rio Olympics has not surpassed London numbers, the number of viewers is still enormous this time around. A survey of American viewers found that 13% plan to “watch a great deal” and 32% will “watch a fair amount.”
Both Republicans and Democrats spent a considerable amount on the 2012 Olympics -- $16 million on the Republican side and $15 million for the Democrats.
This cycle, however, the difference in spending is stark. Beyond the Clinton campaign’s $8 million, Priorities USA, the pro-Clinton super PAC, is set to spend an additional $14 million on ads targeting the Olympics games through the end of the event.
Hillary Clinton is using the media agency, GMMB, to place national network and cable buys during the games, the same agency used by President Obama in 2012.
Looking past the Olympic games, Priorities is planning to spend $77 million from the end of August through election day, November 8. SMG Delta data shows that the majority of upcoming ad spending from the Clinton camp is focused on the swing states of Florida ($20 million), Ohio ($17 million), Colorado ($10 million) and North Carolina ($9 million).
There is also heavy spending from the Clinton campaign and supporting PACs in Nevada, New Hampshire, Virginia and Iowa, where spending from the Trump camp is nowhere to be seen. Despite a heavy fundraising haul in July, the Trump campaign seems unwilling or unable to put the money to use on TV.
That may change, but the longer he waits, the harder it will be to get enough airtime to have any noticeable effect on voters. Then again, he may be banking on his innate ability to shape a news cycle, hoping that he can convince enough voters to come out for him in November.
Recent polls suggest this tactic may not sustain a presidential campaign.