Fox News charged precedent-setting rates for ads in the first Republican presidential debate, in August, but reduced some of them significantly for the second round on Wednesday night.
The network asked for over $495,000 for a 30-second ad during the first debate, but just over $200,000 for a :30 during the second debate, according to Fox-supplied information that was passed onto Semafor by one ad buyer.
Another ad buyer said that Fox was charging $125,000 for 30-second ads in programming immediately preceding the second debate, and $225,000 for ads running during post-debate programming.
During 2020’s general election debates, ABC reportedly charged $375,000 for a 30-second ad.
The first debate offered many viewers a first opportunity to check out candidates hoping to steal thunder from Donald Trump and, up till the last minute, the possibility that Trump himself would still participate.
But without Trump, the GOP race has become “a snoozer,” in the words of one ad buyer, giving advertisers less incentive to pay premium rates.
"Trump has paid no price for skipping these two Fox debates -- but Fox has," observed Vox senior political correspondent Andrew Prokop.
A source "familiar with Fox News’ debate advertising plans" confirmed a decrease in ad rates between the first and second debates to Semafor, but added that the second-round prices quoted above do not accurately reflect what many advertisers actually ended up paying, because demand increased after the first event’s ratings exceeded expectations. The first debate drew 12.8 million viewers across Fox News, Fox Business and Fox’s streaming platforms.
A similarly described "person with knowledge of Fox News's advertising strategy" told The Messenger that most ad buyers paid prices "similar" to those for the first debate, and that overall ad revenue for second debate is expected to be "comparable" to the first.
Asked to comment, a Fox News spokesperson referred MediaPost to The Messenger's version.