Analysts have projected record revenues for broadcasters from this year’s elections. But just how big the political jackpot will be remains to be seen. Due to the Citizens United court ruling which gave free-rein to independent political action committees (PAC) to raise and spend money, creating the so-called Super-PACs, Sinclair Broadcast Group executives indicated in the company’s quarterly conference that the final figure could be beyond what anyone expects at this point.
Sinclair COO/Television Steve Marks began by answering an analyst’s query into whether broadcasters might have to turn down some political spots to keep from squeezing out regular advertisers. “They always come back,” Marks noted. “We’ll take the political money while we can – and it’s going to be enormous.”
“The PAC money that we’ve witnessed so far is more than interesting – it’s really an eye-opener,” the broadcaster said. “We’re only one month into it, but it’s very interesting what’s going on. It’s clearly different than what we’ve experienced and we’re really not dealing with a lot of volume yet,” Marks told the Wall Street crowd.
“January was very interesting and a huge eye-opener,” he continued. “If it is a taste of things to come, it’s going to be a very interesting year.”
“I think the challenge is going to be that this Super-PAC money probably isn’t going to fall into the marketplace until the decision is made as to who the [Republican] candidate is going to be,” chimed in Sinclair CEO David Smith. “That’s when the blood is going to start running. The further into the year that happens the more interesting it is going to be from the standpoint of all broadcasters managing their inventory for the benefit of local advertisers as well as the money that’s going to be standing there trying to work its way into our shelves.”
“It’s just going to be fascinating to watch because we’ve never seen anything like this before,” Smith concluded.
RBR-TVBR observation: The airwaves are going to be really crowded come October and early November. Car dealers, retailers and any other type of business you can think of would do well to schedule their advertising to run heavily ahead of that crunch. TV ad space is going to be at a premium and radio is likely to tighten up ahead of the election due to both political advertising and regular advertising being squeezed off of TV and onto radio.