Jared Kamrass of Cincinnati, OH

What TNF on Prime Means for the Future of Political Ads

Two of Jared Kamrass of Cincinnati, OH’s great passions are political campaigns and football, so it shouldn’t shock you that is his favorite season.

Depending where you live, you may be used to ominous political ads during injury timeouts or the two-minute warning. In Jared Kamrass’s hometown (Cincinnati), even-numbered years have always guaranteed a steady diet of candidates in his living room during breaks in OSU and Bengals games.

But Amazon’s announcement that Prime won’t be airing political ads during their ballyhooed productions of Thursday Night Football may be the beginning of the end for one of the last, best ways to guarantee political advertisers reach an audience: live sports.

Over the last decade, as viewers/voters shift away from ‘appointment’ television and switch to watching content through streaming and cut the cord, live sports has been the one holdout. No one wants to DVR a football game or watch the World Series on YouTube the next day.

Political advertisers and their media buyers have been willing to pay a premium to guarantee such a high market share for a cable or broadcast placement. Three days after TNF on Prime launched with a big Chiefs/Chargers matchup, the Bengals opened their season against the hated Pittsburgh Steelers. That 1:00pm CBS slot garnered a 39.0 rating and a whopping 76.3 share in the Cincinnati DMA.

But Amazon’s entering into live sports may finally be closing off that last captive audience for advertisers. It has been rumored for years that Amazon, Apple, or Google may snatch up portions of College Football conference media rights, and Amazon’s strong start with TNF on Prime isn’t likely to dampen that speculation.

While the advertising capabilities of the tech companies certainly allow for better targeting and more creative ad placement, political advertisers will be out of luck if other platforms follow the lead of Amazon and ban such ads from their platforms.

Tech platforms aren’t under the same obligation as FCC-licensed broadcast stations and cable providers to show political ads at ‘lowest unit rates’. So, while tech platforms might consider allowing political ads (though not legally required to do so) media buyers might want to brace themselves for sticker shock.

Jared mentions that we shouldn’t expect to see NFL, College Football, Playoff Baseball, or the NBA fall off over-the-air providers anytime soon, however, we can expect Amazon’s foray into the NFL to accelerate the trend that media buyers and political advertisers have been dreading for years.

By Jared Kamrass

Jared Kamrass

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