Recently, Obama broke rare ground by making a $5 million network TV buy on NBC's Olympics broadcast. The two-week sporting event starts this Friday. The news of the deal was first reported in Television Week.
Like the Obama campaign, the McCain campaign bought a package that includes both network and cable inventory. But specific details have not been released by either campaign. "You don't know if $1 million has been bought on NBC, and $4 million on Oxygen or USA Network," said one media-buying executive in observing the deal.
Prime-time NBC network spots for the Beijing Olympics have been going for around $750,000 for a 30-second commercial. Political candidates have the right to buy TV time for the lowest prevailing price within eight weeks of an election.
Political candidates rarely make national TV media buys, preferring to target market-by-market, or state-by-state, to boost voter awareness in those areas where they are trailing or in key battleground states.
Some media-buying executives say local TV spot ad buying remains a more efficient way to place most media for a political candidate. In the past, candidates have bought cable TV advertising for the campaigns.
Media executives believe that record-breaking fund-raising by both candidates has given them the ability to supplement local TV buys with high-profile national media buys. For example, with the Super Bowl, a marketer can hit a large number of diverse viewers with a single commercial message.