Home Advertising Boost Presidential Candidate Mike Bloomberg’s campaign ad spree gives local TV stations a boost

Presidential Candidate Mike Bloomberg’s campaign ad spree gives local TV stations a boost

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Presidential Candidate Mike Bloomberg’s campaign ad spree gives local TV stations a boost

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Former New York Mayor and Democratic Presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg has taken to the airwaves, and his ad blitz has been a boost for local television stations and their stocks. CNBC’s Robert Frank reports.

Mike Bloomberg’s ad-buying spree may be rankling his fellow Democrats and President Donald Trump, but local broadcasters are loving it.

Bloomberg is worth about $60 billion and is self-funding his campaign to be president. The former three-term New York mayor has spent more than $250 million on TV and radio ads and $45 million to $50 million on digital — more than twice that spent by Trump and all the other Democratic candidates combined, according to Advertising Analytics and Acronym.

Following the Iowa caucuses — in which former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders finished ahead after a counting process riddled with inconsistencies — Bloomberg’s campaign announced plans to double its spending.

All that spending has created a windfall for local TV broadcasters, especially in Bloomberg’s top target states — California, Texas, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania. California and Texas hold their primaries on March 3, aka Super Tuesday. Florida holds its primary March 17, while New York and Pennsylvania hold theirs April 28.

Shares of publicly traded companies that own local broadcasters have also risen, a welcome surprise for an industry that’s being eroded by digital media. Shares of Nexstar Media Group, the largest of the local broadcasting companies, are up over 20% since news of Bloomberg’s run broke in late November. Shares of Gray Television are up about 10%.

Broadcast companies “are jazzed to have Bloomberg in the fray,” wrote Wells Fargo analyst Steven Cahall. “His spending has caused a meaningful uptick in Q4 political revenue vs. company plans.”

Cahall said total political-ad spending in the 2020 elections on broadcast could top $3.5 billion, up 11% from 2016 and a new record. In 2016, both Hillary Clinton and Trump spent less than broadcasters expected. Trump favored digital advertising and didn’t need to spend on broadcast, and Clinton’s campaign felt confident it didn’t need a larger TV-ad blitz.

This time, the combination of Trump’s massive war chest, Bloomberg’s intention to spend at least $1 billion and a drawn-out Democratic primary could give a lift to the entire broadcast industry and its shareholders.

“When politicians go to war, own the arms dealers,” Cahalll wrote in a recent report.

Perhaps the biggest beneficiaries will be Nexstar and Sinclair. Nexstar, based in Irving, Texas, bought Tribune Media Company last year and now has stations in many of Bloomberg’s top markets. Bloomberg has spent $36 million in California, his top market, according to Advertising Analytics. Nexstar owns and/or operates eight stations in California, while Sinclair owns and/or operates 13.

In Texas, where Bloomberg has spent $30 million, Nexstar has 27 stations and Sinclair has 16. In Florida, where Bloomberg has spent $27 million, Sinclair has 13 stations, while Gray has five and Nexstar has three.

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