TV station owners are growing increasingly restless about what they hoped would be a windfall from political advertising this year.
Deadline.com notes that as recently as April, Moody’s Investors Service was projecting as much as $3.4 billion would go to stations, potentially pumping up ad revenues by 18%. “But the forecast looks less certain after some big groups reported lower-than-expected political sales in Q2, while GOP candidate Donald Trump has yet to show that he will spend heavily on local TV,” Deadline reports.
Part of the problem is the gap in the polls between Trump and front-runner Hillary Clinton. In reporting weaker-than-expected second-quarter earnings for E.W. Scripps late last week, Brian Lawlor, the company’s head of Broadcast Operations, noted that in a number of states “the distance between the two candidates has moved to double digits. And as you know, typically 5%, 6% is kind of the gap you want to stay within for a race to maintain being competitive, and we see some of that drifting.”
Meanwhile, Trump has been sitting out the Olympics, while Clinton’s campaign is spending more than $13 million on the event, the AP reports.
“During the three weeks of Olympics coverage, her campaign is spending $8 million on the national NBC network, $1.1 million more on affiliated cable channels Bravo, USA and MSNBC and $4.5 million on local affiliates in key presidential battleground states such as Florida,” the AP reports, citing Kantar Media’s political advertising tracker.
The AP report adds: “One Clinton ad in heavy rotation is an awkward clip from [Trump’s] appearance on David Letterman’s former late-night show. The host holds up Trump shirts and ties and points out that they were made in Bangladesh and China, not America. Trump smiles sheepishly.”
The AP quotes Will Ritter, a GOP ad maker and a veteran of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns, saying of the Trump campaign: “I’d love to know what they’re waiting for.” Ritter adds that Trump’s aversion to political norms such as advertising “cannot survive the professionalized deconstruction that Hillary is doing every day.”