This year is just terrible across the board for local TV stations, whose traditional advertisers in financial services, automotive and retail have been slammed by the economic downturn. The only way they've been able to struggle through is with billions of dollars in political advertising, led by a record $250 million over five months for Barack Obama. According to the Times' David Carr, that's "a rate of advertising that outstrips Burger King, Apple and Gap on an annualized basis." What will the stations do when the election is over? Hell, what will Saturday Night Live, the Daily Show and David Gergen do?
The pundits and TV shows can keep making fun of the next president once he's in office, and the national networks saw a relatively small percentage of their revenue come from election-related advertising.
The local stations will ramping up as aggressively as possible online, a process well under way, for example, at WNBC. When the 2010 and 2012 elections roll around, the smart money says candidates will not only be raising money online but spending it there, as well.