Wheel Scoring Fortune Off of Political Ads

Game show has 'very loyal' audience that votes
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2016 11:21 AM CDT
Wheel Scoring Fortune Off of Political Ads
Pat Sajak, left, with contestants on the set of "Wheel of Fortune."   (Carol Kaelson/Wheel of Fortune via AP)

Ads on ESPN may get the president's ear, but an ad during Wheel of Fortune is far more important, at least in the eyes of candidates and super PACs. The show brought in $57 million in campaign spending during the 2012 election—the most of any TV show ahead of Today and Jeopardy! Even more impressive is that it will "easily exceed" that amount this time around, reports Bloomberg. The show had pulled in $17.8 million as of March 1, or seven times more than at the same point in the 2012 cycle, according to Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group. As one of the most-watched syndicated shows, per Quartz, Wheel of Fortune is "reliable. Our viewers are very loyal" and "like news, we're on daily," says Harry Friedman, the show's executive producer. To boot, about 70% of Wheel of Fortune's 29 million weekly viewers last year said they always vote.

But while the promise of political ad spending has long helped sell the show, "over the years it's obviously gotten more important as the amount of money that's being spent increases," says the president of the show's distributor. "The super PACs act as this multiplying force," adds an analyst. "Anything that continues to get the reliable audiences just becomes more and more expensive, because there are more and more non-candidate advertisers out there willing to bid up the prices for that kind of programming." Take this example: During the US Senate race in Arkansas in October 2014, Little Rock's KATV-TV raised the price of 30-second ads during Wheel of Fortune from $1,250 to $50,000, and they sold. Though it isn't clear what Wheel of Fortune will rake in by November, CMAG predicts $4.4 billion will be spent on political ads overall. (More political advertising stories.)

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