Our Insights

Political Climate of Local TV

November 21, 2019

I am sure we can all give a collective sigh of relief.  Election day has passed, and the waves of political ads that filled the airways are behind us…for now.

2020 is just around the corner.  But before we make any guesses as to what 2020 may have in store for us, let’s take a look back at the election cycle for 2019.

The Richmond market experienced political activity at a scale that has never been seen before.  Estimates reported that at least 12 different candidates actively advertised in the marketplace.  The trick was that this was supposed to be an off-year – the general election isn’t until next year. However, the pressure in State Senate and State House of Delegate races this year was so great that it forced candidates into advertising on local television. Local-market stations reported a spending increase of 120% above estimates.

So, what can we expect for 2020?

In first quarter 2020, the presidential primary season begins.  With so many democratic candidates fighting for the nomination, spending is expected to be robust.

As we look ahead to the general election in November, not only will we have the presidential vote, but Senate and Congressional seats are also up for grabs.  Here in the Richmond market, both Mark Warner and Abigail Spanberger are up for re-election. Presidential, Senate and Congressional elections, coupled with spending from Political Actions Committees, are sure to make 2020 a challenging political year.

So how can an advertiser be prepared for the impact of political advertising in 2020?  Here is our advice:

  • Plan ahead.  Don’t wait until the last minute.
  • Anticipate changes to your schedules.
  • Schedule flexibility may help.
  • Be aware of the political windows, and if possible, try to buy around the last month of the political window to avoid pre-empts.  This will also help prevent getting lost in the negative trap that viewers fall into with so much argumentative advertising.

Buckle your seat belts – 2020 is coming, and it’s sure to be a wild ride. Stay tuned, your LMP team will report back in 2020 with updates on the General Election and its impact.

Angela Parrish