Local TV Stations Forecast To Enjoy Higher Political Ad Buys

We have heard months of poor TV advertising news -- including a delayed TV upfront buying season. All that means little rush for advertisers to get desired inventory.

Still, for one TV advertising platform, local TV stations, they will continue to see positive results. It comes largely due to political advertising. But the question is how positive?

Guggenheim Securities analyst Curry Baker says total political advertising is estimated to be $10 billion -- with TV’s take to be around $3.2 billion, which would be another record -- up 20% from the 2018 midterm's total.



By way of comparison, Baker’s political estimate is on the high side. Other projections talk up a $7 billion to $8 billion political ad take.

While estimates overall predict TV stations advertising coffers will improve this year -- as it does every other year, due to big political advertising (Presidential election and midterms) -- this year might not set the world on fire.

Blame pandemic disruptions. And, less we forget, TV stations are also missing another big every-other-year boost -- the Olympics. This year, the Tokyo Summer Olympics were postponed.

One wonders if core advertisers will complain as loudly as they have in the past when it comes to being pre-empted by political TV commercials -- which have the right of way to secure key inventory positions on TV stations.

The positive for political advertising is that Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden August fundraising netted $365 million. Trump's August fundraising achieved a lesser -- but still solid -- $210 million. A lot also depends on how much battleground states are in play -- not just for the Presidential election, but for Senate and House races.

BIA Advisory Services now estimates for 2020, TV stations will see $18.5 billion in local TV's over-the-air/digital media (down from an earlier $19.4 billion projection). Just looking at core, over-the-air TV advertising, BIA estimates $17 billion for this year. This would be down a bit from the $17.2 billion in 2019, according to other estimates.

But the wild card still comes with political advertising -- that $3.2 billion to $3.5 billion still in play. Additionally, we don’t have solid projections as to where core local TV advertising will be by year’s end.

Local TV station executives will be crossing their fingers and praying election messaging -- paid and otherwise -- will only get more heated. That, in turn, will result in more political ad buying.

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