Station managers in Ohio, Virginia and Oklahoma, among other states, were hoping for the late-breaking political spending windfall that had occurred in other states that previously hosted primaries and caucuses. But that's failed to materialize in several key Super Tuesday markets.
While WKRC Cincinnati, among others, will undoubtedly benefit big from the general election in swing state Ohio, the GOP TV buys -- candidate or Super PAC -- simply never materialized in any major form this week.
"It's been a much quieter week than we hoped it would be," says Les Vann, WKRC VP and GM. "It did not produce the kind of volume that we would have liked."
Yet across the state in Columbus, it's a different story. Station sales managers were fretting until the last few days, when the taps finally unclogged. "It's been overwhelming," says Tom Griesdorn, WBNS president and GM. "It's crazy: we're close to achieving what we anticipated" -- nearly all at the last minute.
Griesdorn says the four hopefuls (Romney, Santorum, Gingrich and Paul) are on TV these days, and the Super PACs have a big, noisy presence as well. Asked who the big spender has been, he replied: "D: All of the above."
Some parts of Tennessee also got a late flurry that boosted some stations over budget. WRCB Chattanooga's Super Tuesday advertising more than doubled the network's expectation, according to the local Times Free Press.
Outside groups, including Super PACs, spent nearly $11.5 million through midday Monday on TV and other campaign activity, reported USA Today, with Ohio's $5.5 million leading the pack.
Otherwise, it's been quiet across the various states. There has been no candidate money, only Super PAC cash, at KFOR Oklahoma City, says Jim Boyer, president and general manager. The market has seen a measly $250,000 total. "Not very impressive," he says.
Like Ohio, Virginia will see major political spending come the fall. On Super Tuesday, it's a different story, thanks in large part to Santorum and Gingrich's failure to get on the ballot. "Nobody's spent anything," laments Randy Smith, president and general manager at WSET Roanoke.
Yet WSET, and other Virginia stations, has fresh orders for issues spots coming from both sides of the aisle, starting a two week campaign tomorrow. The $20,000 is much appreciated. "The day after the primary, that's pretty decent size," says Smith.
WWBT Richmond has been buoyed by issues spending as well. "We haven't really been seeing primary money, but issues money is very active," says Kym Grinnage, VP and GM. "It's set up to be a very busy year."