Spanish-language broadcasters in the U.S. project their political advertising sales will soar this year as the presidential candidates woo Latinos in states that have a chance to tip the election.
"We are significant players in the battleground states," said Philip Wilkinson, chief operating officer of Entravision Communications Corp., owner of 51 Spanish-language television stations. "Presidential campaign advertising should come at the end of August, and then I think it's going to come fast and furious."
Latinos make up 12% to 37% of the electorate in Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Nevada, four of the six states that President Bush carried by five points or less in 2004, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, a Washington research group.
Entravision has 22 stations in those four states.
Santa Monica-based Entravision's political ad sales will double to $12 million from the last presidential cycle, said Lloyd Walmsley, an analyst in San Francisco with Thomas Weisel Partners.
Univision Communications Inc., which went private last year, expects to take in as much as $20 million in political ads in the second half of 2008, Chief Financial Officer Andrew Hobson said. That would represent a full-year gain of as much as 78% from 2004.
New York-based Univision, the largest U.S. Spanish-language broadcaster, has five TV stations in Colorado, Florida and New Mexico, among a total of 63.
Entravision's Wilkinson said presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told him recently that he planned to "spend heavily" in competitive states.
McCain is running a TV ad with a military theme in Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, as well as Spanish radio spots in all four states, said Hessy Fernandez, the candidate's director of specialty media.
"A significant amount of our resources will go to those four states," said Vince Casillas, coordinator for Spanish media for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who is running against McCain.
Entravision reported income of $40 million from continuing operations last year on sales of $250 million. First-quarter political ad sales, during the primary campaign, doubled to $1.5 million from 2004.
In 2004, political ads made up 2.4% of Entravision's revenue and 3.5% of the total collected in the second half of the year, spokesman Joe LoBello said.
Political spending on all media will rise 76% to $3 billion from 2004, said Evan Tracey, who leads the campaign media analysis group of TNS Inc., a Reston, Va.-based market researcher.
Azteca America, owned by Mexico City-based TV Azteca, almost doubled its political ad sales from 2004 during the primaries, and projects similar gains in the general election, said Brian McCullough, director of spot TV sales in New York. Azteca has nine affiliate stations in Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Nevada, he said.
Telemundo, part of General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal, also enjoyed record primary spending, said Enrique Perez, senior vice president of sales, who wouldn't provide specific numbers.
As much as 25% of the company's available ad time may go to political commercials in the second half, he said. Ten of Telemundo's 14 owned stations operate in the four battleground states, he said.
There are 46 million Latinos in the U.S., representing about 15% of the population, 9% of eligible voters and about 6.5% of actual turnout, according to Pew.