Advertisers paid a premium for airtime during the first Republican presidential debate on Fox News, but it looks like they’ll be getting a major discount during round two on Wednesday night.
Semafor reviewed the rates the network shared with one prospective ad buyer for both the first and second GOP primary debates. For the first debate, the cost of a single 30-second spot topped $495,000.
But the same 30-second spot during Wednesday night’s contest would cost just over $200,000.
Another ad buyer did not share the rates for ads running during the first debate, but confirmed that Fox was charging $225,000 for 30-second ads during the broadcast immediately after the event, and $125,000 for 30-second spots during the broadcast before it.
The drop-off in debate ad rates reflects the drop-off in drama during the 2024 primary.
There was plenty of incentive for advertisers to buy ads for the first contest, which helped drive record prices for airtime. (During the 2020 presidential debate, ABC charged a reported $375,000 for a 30-second spot during the general election debates.) It was the first time for audiences to see many of the candidates. And until just days before the debate, former President Donald Trump was still publicly toying with the idea of showing up.
As non-Trump Republicans candidates fail to gain traction in the polls, there’s less incentive for advertisers to pay the same record rates as the first contest.
“Sans Trump… these debates just aren’t big-time TV, because the GOP primary race has become a snoozer,” one ad buyer told Semafor.
Room for Disagreement
A source familiar with Fox News’ debate advertising plans acknowledged that there was a decline in ad rates between the first and second debate, but told Semafor that 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 that the network had a diverse array of advertisers lined up including those in technology, entertainment, finance, and healthcare.