Merger Highlights Enduring Value of Political Spending on Local TV

By Mark Joyella 

The return of a presidential campaign season means another flood of cash pouring into local television stations–and propping up a legacy business otherwise facing enormous challenges.

As Justin Fox notes at Bloomberg, the just-announced Media General acquisition of Meredith was built in part on the expectation of political dollars. “It was telling how much attention Meredith executives lavished on the 2016 campaign in Tuesday’s merger conference call,” he writes.

Fox argues local TV has an aging audience, but a perfect one for political candidates:

Political advertisers are more interested in reaching people older than [the target audience of advertisers] because they are the most likely to vote. And while younger viewers have been abandoning traditional TV, older ones have stayed quite loyal.

Campaigns are using unprecedented levels of nontraditional media to reach potential voters, but Fox says the change won’t soon doom local television. “The demographics of voting seem to guarantee that it will continue to be a much slower transition than with most other advertising categories.”