October Breaks Record for Political Television Ads, Nielsen Says

Politicians exposed Americans to a record number of political advertisements last month as prospective governors, senators and representatives spent big to court undecided voters in advance of the Nov. 2 midterm election, Nielsen reported Friday. Cleveland residents were most likely to be inundated by the ads, Nielsen added.

American TV viewers were exposed to almost 1.48 million political ads last month, the largest number on record, and up from about 1.41 million ads in October 2008, the month before President Barack Obama was elected, Nielsen said.

Democrats and Republicans both spent lavishly to attempt to sway TV viewers in advance of the midterm elections. Ultimately, Republicans took 58 seats to gain control over the House of Representatives, while Democrats barely held on to their Senate majority.

While viewers are collectively exposed to about 100,000 political ads during most months of the year, politicians typically run about 650,000 ads in October.

Meanwhile, ad placements varied wildly among U.S. metropolitan areas last month. More than 23% of October's paid TV ads in the Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, area were political, while Portland, Oregon's ad frequency was 22%. On the other end of the spectrum, just 1% of October's paid TV ads in Jackson, Miss., were political, making that city by far the least inundated in the U.S., according to Nielsen.

Networks broadcasting midterm election results attracted 11% more viewers than they did during the 2006 elections, and about a third more than the 2006 midterms, indicating heightened political interest from Americans looking for House and Senate gains from their respective political parties, Nielsen said in a separate report Friday.

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