Sen Barack Obama (D-IL) has asked NBC Universal about Olympics advertising. It is not only a sign that the Obama campaign is confident it will continue its steller fundraising, but a signal that a widening field of battle ground states has the candidate contemplating national advertising buys. An Olympic buy could allow Sen Obama to reach a large swath of women. There's also a big difference between Team Obama and Team McCain. Sen. John McCain's campaign has inquired about Olympics rates but hasn't asked for specific packages. Besides, with the Republican candidate lagging far behind in fundraising, such buys would take a huge chunk out of his budget before the conventions. NBC will air 3,600 hours of Olympics coverage on NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, USA Network, Oxygen and Telemundo. All the packages presented to the Obama campaign include time on both NBC and cable. No presidential candidate has done any significant buying of network TV ad time since Bob Dole ran in 1996. The only political ads that have aired on any broadcast network in this campaign were two from Rudy Giuliani in consecutive weeks on "Fox News Sunday." Instead, presidential candidates have targeted their ads to battleground states. When they have tried to reach a wider audience, they've gone with national cable. There has been speculation this year that with more states in play this time, the economics of media buying might call for a national overlay to state-by-state ads. But there are costs aside from the high ad prices. The Olympics come pretty early in the presidential process, ahead of both parties' conventions. And the prices of national ads reflect their reach in states such as California, Illinois and New York -- states that are presumably already in Obama's column.
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