Stations commanded some $2.9 billion in political revenue in 2012, according to the trade association TVB, good for about 80% of the total television spending in the political category.
The $2.9 billion was a 38% jump over 2010, while the midterm activity in 2010 represented a 35% increase over political spend in 2008.
"Local TV remains the premiere choice for campaign media strategists as presidential spending on local broadcast TV stations in 2012 (from the conventions to Election Day) grew dramatically versus 2008, increasing over 65% to nearly $500 million," said the study.
Jack Poor, TVB VP of political research, detailed the impact of Super PACs in the most recent election. President Obama's camp placed 88% of the president's broadcast spots, he said, while Obama-aligned PACs placed the other 12%.
Over at the Mitt Romney camp, the candidate accounted for less than 40% of the Romney broadcast spots. Romney's PAC bought 12%, while the pro-Romney PACs sprung for 50% of the buys.
Poor suggests savvier buys on Obama's part helped the incumbent win. "This vital difference in the 2012 rivals' planning and buying media structures gave the Obama campaign distinct advantages," wrote Poor. "The most eye-popping was that although the Romney forces are estimated to have outspent Obama's by a ratio of 55/45, Obama's team actually purchased about 10% more broadcast spots."