As 2015 closes, many wonder if this was the year that saw the end of television’s dominance in political advertising–long a tremendously valuable source of revenue to local television stations and networks alike.
“In 2015,” writes Rick Hampson in USA Today, “TV broadcast advertising seemed inversely related to political success, as measured by polls.”
Donald Trump, the Republican presidential frontrunner, has famously declined to run any advertising, maintaining his lead month after month on a steady diet of cable news interviews and heavily-covered mass rallies:
“Free media’’ – everything from an appearance on CNN to a tweet – is also eroding TV’s franchise. Trump is the exemplar. He makes so much news he’s constantly on TV without having to pay for it, and he’s a sensation on Twitter, with 5 million followers and counting.
As digital rises–USA Today reports political spending on digital ads will pass $1 billion for the first time in this election–there’s still a fortune to be made selling time to candidates: $4.4 billion will be spent on TV for the 2016 election, up from $3.8 billion in the 2012 campaign:
TV, however, may be heading for a cliff. Even the PACs, which were essentially devised to finance TV ads, are now investing more in non-broadcast campaigning, And the Borrell report predicts that after 2016, “broadcast TV’s fall from political ad spending grace will be breathtaking.’’ By 2020, it estimates, TV will have lost almost 14 share points, as digital nips at its heels.