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Exclusive: Mike Bloomberg spends $1 million on TV ads in Sacramento

Michael Bloomberg. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr Creative Commons)

Presidential contender Michael Bloomberg has been spending big on television ads as he jockeys for the coveted Democratic nominee in the 2020 election, with outlets reporting he’s spent more than $100 million of his own money across multiple platforms, including broadcast and online.

Television stations in Sacramento, the country’s 20th largest media market, are getting a nice chunk of that change.

According to recent public filings reviewed by The Desk, Bloomberg spent around $2 million last month across the six major local television stations in town and is on track to spend at least that much this month.

Already, Bloomberg has committed to spending over $1 million in the first two week of January across KCRA-TV (Channel 3, NBC), KXTV (Channel 10, ABC), KOVR-TV (Channel 13, CBS), KMAX-TV (Channel 31, CW), KTXL (Channel 40, Fox) and KQCA-TV (Channel 58, MyNetwork).

Bloomberg is making it rain Hearst Television-owned KCRA and KQCA, the big winners of his ad spend campaign: More than 45 percent of the commercial inventory sold in Sacramento has gone to the station, with most of his commercials running during local news, prime-time programming and high-rated syndicated shows like Dr. Oz and Access Hollywood. Between both Hearst stations, Bloomberg has committed $468,000 for his ads to run on KCRA and KQCA through January 12, according to public invoices reviewed by The Desk.

CBS station KOVR and sister-station KMAX have the second-largest piece of the pie with Bloomberg committing 27 percent of his Sacramento ad inventory to both stations. KOVR and KMAX will take in more than $280,000 for running Bloomberg’s campaign commercials through the middle of the month.

KXTV, owned by TEGNA, will receive the third most money with $187,000  in revenue for 18 percent of Bloomberg’s local ad inventory, while Nexstar Media-owned KTXL will receive the lowest amount: $103,000 for 10 percent of the candidate’s ad inventory.

It was not clear if Bloomberg ran ads on Spanish-language stations KSCO-CD (Channel 33, Telemduno) or KUVS (Channel 19, Univision), but invoices reviewed by The Desk showed his campaign had not purchased locally-inserted ads through Effectv, a services that replaces national ads with local ones on some Comcast channels.

Prior to entering the race, Bloomberg was being compared to fellow billionaire Tom Steyer, himself a candidate for the Democratic presidential ticket. Prior to Bloomberg’s official entrance into the race, Steyer had spent $60 billion of his own money on local and national television ads.

But his spending in the Sacramento market has subsided: Public invoices reviewed by The Desk showed Steyer committing around a quarter of the money Bloomberg has for advertisements on the six local stations through the middle of January (like Bloomberg, Steyer has not committed to purchasing ads through Effectv, and it was unclear if he’s spent money to buy time on local Spanish-language stations).

Invoices for other Democratic presidential candidates were not readily available to view, and it was unclear if any other candidate or cause had purchased ads on local stations in Sacramento.

For local broadcasters, an election year can help a station boost its bottom line, especially for smaller stations that struggle with traditional commercial ad revenue. On an earnings call with investors last year, a CBS executive said while commercial ad revenue had dipped throughout its local TV group, it expected those stations to make up revenue through political ad spends in 2020 (in Sacramento, KOVR and KMAX are owned by CBS).

Analysts estimate candidates and causes could spend a whopping $6 billion to $10 billion in political ads this year, with nearly half of the money going to local broadcast stations.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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