Over $3B Spent On Midterm Local TV Ads

The total set a new record for political ad spending on local broadcast television for any election cycle, according to TVB.

The Television Bureau of Advertising reports that total spending on political advertisements on local broadcast television in 2018 has set an all-time record for a midterm cycle, and any previous election cycle, based upon Kantar Media/CMAG’s latest figures.

“Campaigns, PACs and other entities spent over $3 billion dollars on local broadcast television advertising in the 2018 midterm cycle,” said TVB President-CEO Steve Lanzano. “There is no doubt that local broadcast TV delivers for political campaigns. Candidates continue to derive tangible, winning results from local broadcast television. Tuesday’s dominant reliance on TV, over all other media platforms, demonstrates that voters rely on local broadcast TV to inform their voting decisions.”

“2018 was uncertain in every way; the volatility this cycle was unprecedented,” said Kyle Roberts, president-CEO of Advertising Analytics. “It’s why we saw candidates and campaigns go back to what is tried and true: if you use TV, it reaches voters and they listen. TV works.”

Advertising Analytics reports local broadcast TV increased more than 100 percent from the 2014 cycle. Advertising Analytics also reports that three out of four dollars spent on traditional media went to local broadcast television.

“It’s true that local broadcast TV carried the day for all candidates,” added Roberts.

“Kantar and Advertising Analytics’ numbers prove what we already know and what our members have shared with us: voters trust local television and turn to their local, vetted news programming to make important voting decisions,” continued Lanzano.


Spending was up across the board, as heavy voter involvement and interest resulted in extensive efforts to reach and motivate voters.

This election cycle demonstrates that when it comes to political advertising, campaigns look for what influences voters most. Kantar Media/CMAG General Manager Steve Passwaiter said: “The numbers speak for themselves. TV remains at the forefront of ad choices for political decision makers.”


While final numbers are yet to be confirmed, Kantar reports that political campaigns, PACs and other entities spent at least $3.01 billion on local broadcast television ads. Key races included:

  • $115,537,020 spent in the Florida Senate race
  • $63,452,900 spent in the Missouri Senate race
  • $55,050,980 spent in the Nevada Senate race
  • $47,927,190 spent in the Arizona Senate race
  • $37,537,750 spent in the Tennessee Senate race


In 2018, campaigns needed to tap into intense voter interest, looking to increase turnout. In this environment, local broadcast television’s established presence provided an edge. Voters trust their local TV stations, with 80% of respondents to an American Conversation Study, commissioned by TVB and conducted by Engagement Labs, reporting that they trust local broadcast TV news and 75% stating that they trust news from local TV websites. In 2018’s hyper-charged environment, this trust matters.

“Trust and influence drive the power of local broadcast TV advertising to deliver,” said Lanzano. “Candidates and campaigns turned to local television to reach voters. This year’s spending and results prove they were right.”

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