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Traditionally, political coverage has not achieved the highest of high ratings on television. Aside from those particularly affected by the coverage, or unfortunate enough to live in a swing state destined to be plagued with advertising, debates and interviews have not always been at the top of many must-see TV lists. 2015 has seen a shift, though, as millions have been regularly tuning into early debates from both sides of the political aisle. Relatively diminutive financial news channel CNBC will air the latest GOP debate, and the network is taking advantage of the prime viewing block by skyrocketing prices for commercials, and the going rate has been set at about $250,000 for a 30-second commercial spot.
CNBC is banking on record numbers for advertisers to be willing to shell out such big bucks for a brief chunk of airtime. Still, $250,000 is a pretty penny for advertisers to gamble on such a small network, even for the high ratings trend of the 2015 presidential debates.
According to The New York Times, CNBC will be doing something differently with this latest meeting of the GOP candidates that could have instilled some faith from advertisers that ad time would be well worth the steep price. Previous debates have covered a plethora of topics – some more well-received than others – but surprisingly ignored one of the biggest issues that may affect American voters: the debt ceiling.
As a channel known for financial coverage rather than politics, and one that faces steep competition from the Fox Business Channel, Bloomberg Television, and online services providing stock information much faster and more specific than what is available for cable news, CNBC cornering the debate market on a topic such as the debt ceiling is perfect for drawing in new viewers and piquing interest in regular programming.
CNBC itself is not exactly gambling on the debt ceiling being a new topic for the debates. According the transcripts of debates from the right and the left alike, none of the 144 questions posed to presidential hopefuls thus far have addressed the debt ceiling at all. It’s an oversight that could serve CNBC very well overall.
Even so, a price tag of $250,000 for 30 seconds of ad time is rather shocking. Political awareness may be at an all-time high for the American viewing public, but a political debate is hardly a Super Bowl. Americans by this point are accustomed to that sort of exorbitance for a major sporting event, and the commercials are honestly sometimes the best part. $250,000 for 30 seconds during ads for a debate feels slightly less comfortable, and there probably won’t even be a single beer commercial about a dog finding its way back to its owner. Where’s the fun in that?