As the brutal 2016 presidential campaigns mercifully draw to a close Tuesday, so does the political advertising season. TV broadcasters, who have long profited from the rancor and mud slinging, have had mixed results, however.
TV and radio group E.W. Scripps (SSP) posted disappointing political ad sales last week, and station owner and cable network operator Sinclair Broadcasting's (SBGI) results were also below expectations. But CBS (CBS) head Les Moonves claimed that presidential ad spending was up strongly for his company, while station owner and magazine publisher Meredith (MDP) was also bullish, in their respective earnings calls.
Scripps CFO Tim Wesolowski outlined one of the central themes of this year's election in the company's Friday earnings call. "In the third quarter, the two presidential candidates spent about a third of what their predecessors spent on our stations in the third quarter of 2012," Wesolowski said. "Donald Trump in particular spent a fraction of what past Republican candidates have spent on television ads.""
Scripps' third quarter political sales of $27 million was about half what the company expected. Scripps had earlier scaled back full-year political ad sales expectations to $100 million from earlier guidance of $135 million to $150 million.