Television news networks could benefit from a longer, drawn-out election with more companies competing for ad space on and in the weeks after Nov. 3, according to an analysis published Thursday by Reuters.
With a spike in the number of mail-in ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic and anticipated legal challenges from President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE and Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Schumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks GOP Rep. Cawthorn likens vaccine mandates to 'modern-day segregation' MORE, many are expecting that Americans will not find out who the next president will be until well after Election Day.
Reuters reported that Fox News and NBC are expecting or already seeing high demand for ad space in the week following election night, with Fox News offering sponsors the opportunity to extend their marketing campaigns should results not be announced within the first week of November.
As the number of live sporting events has been limited due to COVID-19, Jeff Collins, the head of ad sales at Fox News, told Reuters that the network is already seeing increases in the average rates and deal sizes for advertisements compared to during the 2016 election night coverage.
A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that ABC is charging up to $375,000 for a 30-second spot during the next two presidential debates.
“With election coverage, you’re going to be reaching people who were previously harder to reach on TV,” Catherine Warburton, chief investment officer at ad agency 360i, said to Reuters. “You’re going to be reaching people who are community- and civic-oriented. That’s attractive to advertisers.”
Final numbers from Nielsen Media Research showed that approximately 73.1 million people watched the first presidential debate on Tuesday, almost 11 million fewer than the number who tuned into the first debate between Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 Clinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty MORE in September 2016.
Fox News reached a record 17.8 million viewers on Tuesday night, with ABC coming in second place that evening at 12.6 million people and NBC with 9.66 million.
People familiar with the networks told Reuters that NBC, MSNBC, ABC, CBS and Fox News sold out their ad inventory for the first debate. NBC, MSNBC and Fox News are also reportedly close to filling up all election night ad spots.