Why You Likely Won't See Too Much Political Advertising During the Olympics
by Tim Baysinger, Adweek
With the torch about to be lit at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, all eyes are on NBC. And with the TV-friendly time zone—Rio is only an hour ahead of the East Coast—NBC is looking to set records for viewership and advertising dollars.
The average cost for a 30-second spot for Rio is $100,000, Kantar Media estimates, which would be a slight increase over the previous two Summer Olympics. But for prime time, that price could be as high as $1 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Campaign money swings into battleground states
Election ad dollars may not flow heavily on a national level—political advertising accounted for just 1 percent of all commercial inventory during the London Games—because for many campaigns, that spending occurs at the local station level. "You also bring into play on the Senate, House and local races," said Jon Swallen, CRO at Kantar Media. "There is a bigger pool of political advertising."
Kantar found that in 2012, the spending was much higher in key battleground markets than in non-battleground states. Political ads only accounted for 1.5 percent of all local station inventory during the games. For example, political ads took up 38 percent of Reno, Nev., NBC affiliate KRNV's inventory. Markets in other key battleground states including Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Missouri and Colorado were north of 15 percent. "The closer the race, the more money they generate," said Swallen. "All of these were key markets for the presidential election and were generally regarded as swing states."
Of the 20 markets that had the highest ratings for the 2012 Olympics, nearly half were in battleground states, including Kansas City (No. 2), Milwaukee (No. 3), Denver (No. 4) and Columbus (No. 5). Utah, which has voted Republican in 15 of the past 16 presidential elections, could be in play for Clinton. Salt Lake City had the highest ratings during London.
Though the Olympics is a sporting event, it tends to appeal to a very different audience than Sunday Night Football or the World Series. "There's a strong preference on the part of political advertisers for news and sports programming," said Swallen, noting the demographics both categories reach are attractive to campaign marketers. And while that would make it seem like MSNBC's or CNBC's audience would be ripe for political ads, those channels will be showing more niche events in Rio. "Roughly 90 percent of all viewing to Olympics was viewing that NBC brought in," Swallen said.
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