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Is Dancing With The Stars A Jackpot For Political Ads?

Submitted by on October 2, 2012 – 8:07 amNo Comment

The New York Times reports that both Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives alike, have found an unlikely target for their political ads this fall: the viewers of ABC’s Dancing With The Stars. Does awkward celebrity jiggling inspire voting? Maybe not, but experts say the demographics and some technical considerations offer a rare opportunity for candidate.

Times writer Jeremy W. Peters highlights that both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney‘s campaigns purchased ad space during DWTS‘s season premiere broadcast, as did both conservative and liberal advocacy groups.

Seeking to explain the rush, the article notes that the program is undoubtedly popular- with 15 million viewers, it was the highest rated show on Monday night. And many of those fans are older women; women are a sought after demographic on both sides, and older voters are more likely to actually vote.

But Peters also points out a technical explanation:

Because the show is live and viewers vote for their favorite contestants, people are less likely to record the show and watch it later. That means they are not fast-forwarding through commercial breaks.

However, just last week, NPR wrote a similar article, based on (presumably) similar info from Kantar Media, but came to the exact opposite conclusion. NPR contributors in swing states watched a national prime time broadcast at the same time, and found very few political ads. The show? Dancing With The Stars.

According to the reporters, broadcasts in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Ohio saw only 12 political ads total out of 200 spots. A ad expert commenting in the article suggested that ad space on DWTS is reserved for national ads, while campaigns only want to target swing states, and even specific areas within those states; therefore, the campaigners go more for ad space on locally syndicated shows.

Why the disparity? Maybe the two news outlets just have different criteria for judgment. While NPR saw an overall lack of political ads on the national broadcast, the Times notes that it is remarkable even a few campaigns are willing to pay exorbitant rates and advertise nationally just to target a few small markets.

Do you live in a swing state and watch Dancing With The Stars? What do you think of the political ads you’ve seen?

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