The Fox News debate was host to a record smashing 24 million viewers
, and observers are now predicting that subsequent debates could bring in an avalanche of commercial advertising cash for host networks.
"I have no idea what type of prices the networks will charge for the debates. A lot of it has to do with the number of eyeballs they expect to attract — and I'm sure there will be a lot of them," Rob Siltanen, founder of the advertising firm Siltanen & Partners, told The Hill.
Ad prices usually increase with high-profile news events like a presidential debate compared to regular prime-time newscasts, Tim Kay, director of political strategy and NCC Media, told The Hill.
He said, however, that the Fox News ratings are not likely to cause networks to overcharge ad buyers ahead of the upcoming debates.
He noted it's a "supply and demand business."
Kay said the presidential debates offer an opportunity for less popular campaigns to purchase ad time during the event in one of the 200 individual markets around the country, and advertisers might make purchases on the local or hyper-local level at a fraction of the cost of buying a national cable ad.
Kathleen Matthews, who is running as a Democrat for Maryland's 8th congressional district, bought ad time during the debate in her media market. By comparison, the National Rifle Association aired an ad nationally warning of the possibility of Michael Bloomberg running for president.
"The debates are certainly entertaining, but the subject matter is obviously more serious and because it's politically related, it's not going to attract such a fun, party atmosphere," Siltanen said.
"All of this means you are less likely to see fun, blockbuster super-commercials as you would with the Super Bowl. So you are less likely to see spots that have 'talk value' that extends beyond the event," he added.
The upcoming Republican debates will be on Sept. 16, hosted by CNN, and Oct. 28, hosted by CNBC. CNN is also hosting the first Democratic debate on Oct. 13.
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