Broadcasting from Iowa’s capital city Des Moines to 434,500 TV households in the country’s 72nd TV market, Hearst’s KCCI takes on outsize importance among the nation’s television stations every four years. Iowans are the first in the nation to vote in presidential caucuses, setting the tone for the rest of the campaign season. As a result, presidential candidates devote significant face time to KCCI, the perennial market leader and its rival, Tribune’s WHO. And the stations respond in kind, adding more political coverage to the menu of news offerings.
Political pitches will interrupt Wheel of Fortune, Sunday Night Football and the evening news for months on TV stations from Council Bluffs to Dubuque. But in the final week before the first-in-the-nation caucuses, advertising levels will reach a fever pitch.
Certainly the Big Four network affiliates in Des Moines have seen an influx of spending from three of the nine GOP candidates competing in the straw poll. But despite this recent flurry of spending, there’s still only been half as much activity as in 2007 — about $600,000 has been spent on political advertising in the state through Aug. 7.