Former President Donald Trump’s absence in the first Republican presidential primary debate in August not only hurt ratings for host network Fox News, it also meant a steep discount in ad rates for Wednesday’s GOP showdown.
About 12 million people watched the first debate, a drop of about 50% from the first debate of the 2016 race when Trump first took to the stage.
Madison Avenue has taken note.
A 30-second spot for the second debate in Simi Valley, California, on Fox Business cost just above $200,000, a huge decline from the $495,000 charged for the similar spot during the first debate Aug. 23 in Milwaukee.
The liberal online service Semafor reviewed the rates the network shared with a prospective ad buyer for both debates, first reporting the big price drop Wednesday.
“Sans Trump … these debates just aren’t big-time TV because the GOP primary race has become a snoozer,” an ad buyer told Semafor.
Trump is far ahead of his challengers for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination and has said he sees no value in debating candidates who trail him by such wide margins.
A source familiar with Fox News’ debate advertising plans acknowledged there was a decline in ad rates between the first and second debates but told Semafor the prices were “not accurate in terms of what were actually sold.”
The source added that the demand for ads had risen after the first debate outperformed ratings expectations, and the network had a diverse array of advertisers lined up, including those in technology, entertainment, finance, and healthcare.
Michael Katz ✉
Michael Katz is a Newsmax reporter with more than 30 years of experience reporting and editing on news, culture, and poltics.
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