Obama’s Ad: Live Segment Likely

LOS ANGELES Tonight’s Barack Obama prime-time TV ad will likely contain a live segment near the end of the telecast.

The Democratic candidate is in Florida and teaming with former president Bill Clinton for the first time on the campaign trail. The live portion will be broadcast from an evening rally, though it’s not clear if Clinton will share the stage during the segment.

“The entire half hour is being fed live to various outlets from a site in Florida,” a source said. “They’ll be feeding a tape for most of the broadcast and then a live portion at the end.”

Though going live is technically more challenging and potentially more risky for Obama should something go awry, the plan will likely result in higher viewership than a mere taped telecast. The move also further explains why the Obama camp insisted on having all its ads run during the same time period.

The special — titled Barack Obama: American Stories — marks the first time in 16 years a presidential candidate has purchased a national address before the general election.

The telecast should provide a unique test of the electorate’s current interest in Obama’s messaging. Campaign ads, after all, are typically considered a nuisance best avoided rather than Must See TV — especially in swing states, which have been bombarded with every flavor of political advertising in recent weeks.

But given the heavy interest in the election in general — with convention speeches and the debates managing to set Nielsen ratings records — curiosity tune-in could be high. NBC, CBS, Fox, MSNBC and Univision are among the best known outlets carrying the telecast.

Ratings for paid programming are often not released to the public, and Nielsen was still mulling on Tuesday whether to announce the ad’s viewership. Given the heavy media interest, a release seems likely.

Adweek and The Hollywood Reporter are units of the Nielsen Co.