New Data Shows Political Ad Spending has Exploded on Sports Programming

NEW YORK -Political ad spending within sports programming across linear cable and related digital networks grew 170% in 2020 vs. 2018 and is poised to meet if not possibly exceed the 2020 record in 2022 – a near tripling vs. the last Midterm election period.

The findings come from an analysis of data from Viamedia, the leading fully-integrated independent cross-media local advertising company. The company continues to see record-level Midterm political advertising — despite industrywide decreases in cable TV subscribers.

ESPN continues to lead in the political ad category for all sports-carrying cable networks, which include TBS, TNT, USA, ESPN2, FX, FS1, NFL Network, CBS Sports Network, the college conference networks (including Big Ten Network, SEC Network, ACC Network among others), as well as regional sports networks.

“The 800-pound gorilla in political ad spending on cable continues to be Fox News, followed by CNN, with other news nets distantly following. Noteworthy is that, while news net political ad spend is increasing, sports in particular has taken off as a category of programming drawing political dollars,” said David Solomon, President & CEO at Viamedia.

Spending around Major League Baseball, which doubled in 2020 vs. 2018, already has more than tripled in 2022 vs. 2018, even before the first 2022 World Series pitch, per Viamedia data.

“Spending around sports programming on cable and connected TV has proven a winner for candidates and political action committees looking to reach a broad cross-section of voters,” Solomon added. “It aggregates an undeniably large audience spanning demographics and interests – and the audiences are watching live and are engaged. We think we’ll match the 2020 record this year and beat it in 2024.”