Cable MSOs are poised to see the biggest gains in political ad revenue this year though broadcasters will still get the vast majority of political spending, according to a study by ad tracking firm Borrell Associates. The estimated political ad dollars for cable MSOs ($938.8 million) doubled the $468 million spent in ’08. Total political spending on broadcast TV this year will be $5.64 billion, up 31% from $4.32 billion 4 years ago, Borrell said.
Overall, cable is expected to account for 9.5% of all political ad spending, just ahead of #3 radio at 8.3%. Cable appears to be a wise investment, with 36% of Americans saying they regularly get their political campaign information from cable news, according to a Pew Research Center survey released in Feb. Spending on political ads is forecast to rise from an estimated $7 billion in ’08 to $9.8 billion this year. That’s an increase of more than 40% from the Obama-McCain battle and would make it the most expensive campaign in the U.S. history.
Meanwhile, a recent court ruling could give cable an important advantage over its broadcast competitors: knowing the stations’ political ad rates. The DC Circuit recently denied NAB’s petition to block the FCC’s online political file rules, which require broadcast stations to post online political documents, including ad prices. The rules took effect Aug 2. The FCC’s database is up (stations.fcc.gov) and the political file section contains info from broadcasters on federal, state, local and non-candidate issue ads.