An early estimate of political ad spending for 2016 indicates that a massive infusion of money is headed to television. An analysis by Elizabeth Wilner on the Cook Political Report places the number at $4.4 billion — but with some important disclaimers.
Wilner notes that “trying to project total 2016 TV ad spend before the end of the Republican presidential primary may just be a fool’s errand.”
Her report adds: “We could see less than $4.4 billion on TV if the GOP primary drags on, or more than $4.4 billion if it wraps up fast. We could see less than $4.4 billion if Democratic billionaires don’t bring their A-game for [Hillary] Clinton, or more than $4.4 billion if they do. We also could see more than $4.4 billion if California produces a juicy slate of ballot initiatives. Overall, we see slightly more upside than downside in this early estimate of 2016 political TV ad spend.”
Based on the $4.4 billion estimate, the report projects that $3.3 billion would go to local broadcast TV. The article notes that broadcast groups rely on political ad spending as their No. 2 source of incremental revenue, after retransmission fees.