September Local TV Political Ad Spend Down Versus 2014

In further evidence of evidence of political advertising TV malaise, September witnessed a 3% decline for the 17 largest TV station groups versus two years ago.

In using Advertising Analytics data, Brian Wieser, senior research analyst of the Pivotal Research Group, says these results come from analyzing third-quarter 2016 bookings of political advertising through September -- which were up 12% versus a 15% gain for the same time period in 2014.

These results were from 17 of the largest station groups (including ABC, CBS, Cox, EW Scripps, Fox, Graham Media Group, Gray, Hearst, Media General, Meredith, NBC, Nexstar, Raycom, Sinclair, Sunbeam, Tegna and Tribune.)

Some of the declining TV station groups were Gray Television; losing 39%; Fox, down 17%; and Tegna, losing 18%. Gainers include ABC, up 76%; NBC, 77%; CBS, 13%; Hearst, 27%; Sinclair, 29%; and Tribune, 18%.

Wieser says that if spending levels remain flat for the rest of the year, full-year political advertising growth would amount to a 12% increase over 2014’s $2.3 billion non-Presidential political advertising season. If higher political advertising spending occurs from Republican candidates a 20% gain could be achieved.



”The big question for station owners is how October will end up, as more than half of the spending arrives between now and Election day,” say Wieser. “However, with relatively little fund-raising on the Republican side of the Presidential campaign (including through affiliated Super-PACs) during this election, there has also been less spending.”

He adds that political advertising should still amount to nearly 15% of local TV advertising during 2016, and around 1.5% of total industry-wide advertising for the full year. Wieser estimates that 2016 should generate $20.6 billion in non-political ad spending for local TV stations.

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