As we approach the general election in November, issue groups and candidates are beginning to focus spending on the months ahead. Over 300 million dollars in political ads have been booked for the month of October. In some markets, political ads are coming with a high price tag especially those airing during NFL and NCAA games leading up to the general election. The House Majority PAC spent a staggering $100,000 for an ad in Atlanta set to air during the NCAA game between University of Georgia and University of Florida. Other issue groups have shelled out tens of thousands of dollars for NFL games airing in battleground states like Colorado and Michigan.
Issue groups are not the only advertisers digging deep in their wallets to purchase ads in October. Candidates like Angie Craig, who is running for re-election to the U.S. House in Minnesota, dropped a total of $115,000 to buy multiple spots for NFL games airing in the fall. In Charlotte, North Carolina two other incumbents looking to retain their seats each spent $20,000 for an ad on the NFL game airing the Sunday before the general election.
NFL and NCAA programs provide a major source of revenue for broadcast stations and are integral audiences for political advertisers, so there is cause for concern surrounding the uncertainty of how major sporting events will take shape in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Broadcast stations face the possibility of advertisers cancelling pre-booked spots or losing money in renegotiations in the event games do not take place. We could see rates spike for prime programming and other day parts to compensate for the lack of access to sports programs. Additionally, political media planners may have to rethink their strategies to reach the same voters that tune in to watch football games. Regardless of how the NFL and NCAA seasons play out, the demand for political advertising in the fall remains high with competitive races taking place across the country.