SBD/July 9, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

ESPN Sells Ad Time To NCC, Which Will In Turn Sell Spots For Political Campaigns

ESPN has signed a deal with NCC Media LLC that will allow it to “sell a bigger portion of its ad time to political campaigns,” according to Suzanne Vranica of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The partnership with the ad-sales venture, which is “owned by several big cable operators,” will mean "more political ads appearing on ESPN programs.” Political advertising has “remained primarily on broadcast TV” because cable networks are “mostly national outlets, while most political ads are sold locally.” But cable in recent years has “promoted its ability to target geographically more narrowly than broadcast TV.” And increased ratings have “helped cable win more political ad dollars.” Advertsing research firm Borrell Associates said that cable will draw “about 14% of TV political ad spending this year,” and projected that “the total would reach $6.6 billion.” Borrell estimated that cable in ‘08 “snared about 10% of $4.78 billion.” Vranica notes ESPN is selling NCC “some of the ad inventory that the network would have sold to national advertisers in the ‘upfront’ ad market for the coming season.” ESPN declined to disclose the ad prices in the NCC deal but said that they “were on par with its upfront prices.” The net also “declined to say how much political-ad time was sold.” NCC said that it “was a ‘multimillion dollar’ deal and that it would sell the time to the political campaigns at a slight markup.” ESPN, which is “nearing completion of its upfront deals, said the pact allowed the network to sell a little more inventory than the 50% to 55% that it typically unloads in the upfront season” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/9).
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