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TV Political Ad Revenue Up 68 Percent Over 2008

7 Nov, 2012 By: Doug McPherson

MONTEREY, Calif. – If – after all the political ads you’ve weathered this year – you think maybe the campaign broke a record in spending, you’re exactly right.

In fact, when all the tabulating is done, this year’s TV political advertising revenue is expected to increase to $2.6 billion, a 68-percent jump over 2008’s then-record total of $1.6 billion, according to SNL Kagan, a financial intelligence company.

Not surprisingly, the swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida emerged as the political battleground for 2012 presidential election spending. Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign outspent President Barack Obama in TV and radio advertising in those states, with more than $500 million already spent with local broadcasters. Political revenue projections were put to the test in the final weeks of campaigning as the two men competed in local markets to close the gap on much-needed electoral votes.

Between April and this past Saturday, the Obama campaign alone aired 89,900 different ads in Ohio – compared to a total of 81,854 commercials from Romney, the Republican National Committee and a variety of Republican-leaning groups there, according to data from CMAG/Kantar Media.

And CNN reported that for ad time running from Monday through Election Day, the Obama campaign bought $24.2 million compared to $21.2 million for Romney. Both campaigns continued to buy additional commercial time as they jockeyed for any last minute advantage.

SNL Kagan estimated that 80 percent of political revenues were generated in the second half of each of the last three election years, with roughly 60 percent of the total coming in during the fourth quarter alone. If that holds true this year, the top 10 publicly held TV broadcast affiliate groups will see a 57.5 percent average increase in political revenue over 2008. Total political revenue for these groups would be $625.3 million, a 41.9-percent increase from $440.5 million in 2008.

An analysis of the these TV station owners in the second quarter by SNL Kagan showed that Journal Communications Inc. will be the best performing group, up 152 percent over four years ago to $32 million. E.W. Scripps is next, with a 94-percent rise to $79.5 million. Gray Television will be 87-percent better at $90.5 million. Sinclair Broadcast Group is expected to jump 83 percent to $75 million, with Media General finishing 79-percent higher at $68.3 million. Gannett Co. was one of the few media groups to see a decrease in TV political advertising: down 10 percent to $84.5 million.

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