Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is spending just under $2 million for 1/2 hour advertisements on CBS and NBC, according to network documents.
The Obama campaign spent $891,250 for the half hour on NBC, a price that was discounted to total $775,000 net. The CBS tim will cost $961,000 for the half hour on CBS.
The Obama campaign has so far declined to discuss the content it will air from 8 to 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 29.
The Obama spend is substantial and could grow if the campaign tries for a broadcast network roadblock by also purchasing time on ABC and Fox.
The package as currently set is less than the $5 million the Obama campaign spent on its first purchase of network TV—a bundle of spots on coverage of the Olympics on NBC Universal.
John McCain’s campaign reacted to Obama’s Olympic buy with its own $6 million package of spots during the Games.
While both the Obama and McCain campaign have devoted most of their ad buys to battleground states, they also recently have been buying some network TV ad time.
At ABC, the Obama campaign has spent $609,000 for ads during news shows, daytime programming including “The View” and soaps including “All My Children,” according to network documents. The candidate also has orders for $2.3 million in spending on the network for the next two weeks.
On Fox, the Obama campaign has bought a $3 million package that includes sports and entertainment programming, the network’s documents show.
The McCain campaign, meanwhile, has bought nearly $2 million in spots on news and some daytime on ABC, most of which has already run.
In recent years, the country’s presidential candidates have done some national cable buys but no national network TV buys. The last network TV buys of any of the presidential candidates was 12 years ago. Ross Perot was the last presidential candidate to buy a half hour of ad time back in 1992.
The Obama campaign didn’t take federal financing and as a result it can spend as much as it raises, a situation which has given it a major advertising advantage in the campaign.
The campaign on Monday alone spent $3.5 million in advertising, according to Evan Tracey, COO of TNS Media Intelligence’s Campaign Media Analysis Group. He said that at that pace, the Obama campaign will spend in the last 30 days of the campaign as much as the McCain campaign is spending in its whole nine-week general election campaign.
The McCain campaign did take federal financing, and while it’s also benefitting from spending by the Republican National Committee, the campaign itself has had to limit its advertising to the $85 million provided by the government.
The McCain campaign last week pulled its advertising from Michigan, reallocating the money to North Carolina, Virginia and Indiana races, according to Mr. Tracey.
John Barcelo, national sales manager at WCNC-TV, Belo’s Charlotte NBC affiliate, said that the result was that the McCain campaign which “hadn’t spent a dime” in the market is now spending at the same level Obama has there recently.
“We were not that surprised he came in. We were looking at the polling and wondering why he was not in the game,” he said.
(Editor: Baumann. Updated 1:40 p.m. to add new numbers in first paragraph.)