Wells Fargo’s final tally of TV political spending


Political AdvertisingAs usual, the current crop of political candidates spent money like even drunker sailors than the last crop, producing television revenue totals that were eye-popping, to say the least. Marci Ryvicker has the stats:

The key number is $3B – and to get the full impact of that, let’s go ahead and string out the zeroes: That’s $3,000,000,000. Local TV came home at $2,900,000,000, and when network and national spot is added in, the total is $3,100,000,000. Wells Fargo used Kantar Media data for its report.

According to Ryvicker, $1.27B of the local total came in October all by its lonesome.

The companies that Ryvicker identified as best poised to partake of the bounty as a percentage of market revenue were Gannett, Sinclair, Gray, LIN and NBC.

41.8% of the cash was from or on behalf of congressional candidates, 31.2% from the presidential races, 21.9% was spent on ballot issues and 5.1% fell into the other catch-basin.

The top markets in terms of actual dollars were Los Angeles, Washington, Cleveland, Las Vegas and Denver. The top markets during the month of October were the same, with the lone exception of Detroit joining the list in place of Las Vegas.

The top five earners as a percentage of total market revenue were Butte-Bozeman MT, Davenport IA, Great Falls MT. Helena MT and Sioux City IA. The October list was the same, with the exception of Traverse City MI joining the list and Sioux City exiting.

RBR-TVBR observation: We wonder if the tide might turn on this just a bit. The flood of PAC spending that was unleashed by the Supreme Court did pour into the system; however, its effectiveness is very much in doubt. In particular, the money spent by Karl Rove’s PACs, including American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, invested heavily in the presidential race and several senate races and had little to show in terms of election wins.

The ads were certainly being run – we know from personal experience in our town where we were bombarded from the media centers of Norfolk-Newport News VA and Greenville-New Bern NC. But it would appear that voters either tuned them out, ignored them or both.

Or, on the other hand, maybe the candidates backed by American Crossroads would have lost be even larger margins without the advertising. We certainly don’t have an answer for that question.

But will the PACs find the same pool of contributors ready to open their wallets again in 2014? We can’t answer that one either. All we can say is stay tuned.


    • Thanks, Jim — that’s not in our news coverage profile — we’re neutral when it comes to Republicans and Democrats, but partisan when it comes to dollars spent with broadcasters! At any rate, party breakdowns have never been part of the ongoing Wells Fargo study we were reporting on, but there are lots of place you might find information. Off the top of my head, I’d suggest website OpenSecrets…

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