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Limbaugh Show Suspends National Ads

When the boycott began to pressure companies not to advertise on the Rush Limbaugh show, I said on my Facebook page that while it’s cool to see the effort I couldn’t imagine that it could actually make much of a difference. But it appears that the number of companies demanding removal of their ads from the show is putting a serious dent in the show’s income.

Limbaugh actually explained on his show recently how the ads work and he was telling the truth. Premiere Radio Networks sells the show to local radio stations for a fee. Some of the ads heard during the show are local (sold by the radio stations, which is how they make money on it) and some are national (sold by Premiere, which is one of the two revenue streams they make on the show — the other being fees from the stations for the right to air it). So when the boycott began, a lot of the companies that announced that they were pulling their ads weren’t actually advertising nationally, they were buying ads on local stations. And they were often buying ad packages on the station for a certain number of ads during the day, not necessarily buying ads specifically to air during Rush’s show. That means that, when you combine both levels, there were literally hundreds of companies, from huge national companies to local pizza places and such, with ads airing during his show.

But what started as a trickle has turned into a flood. The number of companies pulling their ads or demanding that they not air during his particular show has grown to more than 140 and it includes a lot of major heavy hitters, including IBM, Visa, Subway, Sony and many more. Which explains why many of those national ad spots are now filled by free public service announcements. And it explains why Premiere is now suspending some of its national ads for two weeks, allowing local stations to sell that ad time instead. ThinkProgress has the internal memo sent to all the affiliate stations that air the show.

There’s no way they’d be airing PSAs instead of commercials if they had commercials to air; Rush has a $400 million contract and that requires serious ad revenue in order to pay. And there’s no way they’d let the local affiliates sell ads if they could sell them nationally. I suspect the two week suspension was done to buy some time to convince some of those companies to come back. So despite Rush’s on-air bluster about how the boycott hasn’t hurt him a bit, it clearly has hurt the show’s profitability.

Will it mean the end for him? Of course not. But I wouldn’t be shocked if, at some point, he ends up moving to satellite radio the way Howard Stern and Dr. Laura did. That avoids the advertiser problem entirely.

Comments

  1. daved says

    The current issue of Newsweek has a story about this Limbaugh debacle and how Mike Huckabee has hopes of supplanting Rush, at least to some degree. Huckabee has a new radio show that’s supposed to air during the same time slot as Rush.

    The story itself is pretty interesting. I don’t have it in front of me right now, but they say that the audience for this kind of talk radio peaked in 2009, and has been declining ever since. In fact, Rush’s audience in some cities is down 50% (which is huge) over that period. In addition, Rush’s audience is overwhelmingly male (72%, among the highest for any radio program) and quite elderly. One radio station manager is quoted as quipping that the median age of Limbaugh listeners is “deceased.” This is not the audience that advertisers most desire.

    So if the far more amiable Huckabee can come along and snag a big chunk of Limbaugh’s audience, the revenue stream generated by the fat drug addict is in severe danger.

  2. says

    Speaking only for myself here, I haven’t heard jack shit from either Howard Stern or Dr. Laura since they went to sat-radio. So if Rush follows their lead, I probably won’t be at all upset.

  3. says

    So if the far more amiable Huckabee can come along and snag a big chunk of Limbaugh’s audience, the revenue stream generated by the fat drug addict is in severe danger.

    Would a Hickabee show be any less disgusting, destructive, or dishonest than Limbaugh?

  4. daved says

    Not that I’m a fan of Huckabee — he’s far, far too conservative for my tastes — but yeah, I figure he’d have to be less disgusting than Rush. Possibly less dishonest, and I don’t know about destructive.

  5. Tualha says

    Yep, as usual, the best hope for America is that stubborn old farts always die eventually :p

  6. daved says

    Oh, for pity’s sake: I didn’t say Huckabee was good (he isn’t), I said he’d be less disgusting than Rush, which I still think is true. Also, his radio show is not purely politics. Look, from my standpoint, I see Huckabee as no more palatable a presidential candidate than Romney (though better than Santorum — how’s that for damning with faint praise?). However, there are degrees of disgusting-ness, and Huckabee is more tolerable than Rush. I mean, can Rush play rock guitar?

  7. noastronomer says

    “they were often buying ad packages on the station for a certain number of ads during the day, not necessarily buying ads specifically to air during Rush’s show.”

    I think that’s a key point. Many companies buy broadcast advertising in terms of how much air time they want and how many eyeballs/ears they want to reach. Even then most companies are only involved indirectly – a PR firm manages the whole deal.

    Which means that many companies actually have no idea where their commercials are being aired.

    That is why boycotting companies that advertise during shows featuring assholes can actually work. They don’t want to be associated with the assholes and it should be self evident that somebody who likes watching assholes probably won’t be buying many flowers or Lexi anyway.

  8. Reginald Selkirk says

    One of his former advertisers, Carbonite, has switched to underwriting public radio; I heard their name this morning. I guess they decided to go after a very different demographic, and one that is probably much more likely to buy their services.

  9. Ben P says

    Would a Hickabee show be any less disgusting, destructive, or dishonest than Limbaugh?

    Not that I’m a fan of Huckabee — he’s far, far too conservative for my tastes — but yeah, I figure he’d have to be less disgusting than Rush. Possibly less dishonest, and I don’t know about destructive.

    I have to admit, I have not followed Huckabee’s media career since his presidential run in the slightest, so I don’t know if he’s pandering more or not.

    However, I’m somewhat familiar with Huckabee from his days as governor of Arkansas and while I disagree with him politically on virtually every single point, his reputation is as a genuinely nice and sincere guy.

    On the other hand I have almost no conception of how someone could suggest rush limbaugh is either nice or sincere.

  10. Aquaria says

    I have to admit, I have not followed Huckabee’s media career since his presidential run in the slightest, so I don’t know if he’s pandering more or not.

    Huckabee has jumped on the birther bandwagon.

    Is that pandering enough for you, or do you need more? Because I’ve got more.

    Let’s tell people who don’t support a bill I like that the pools have moved to a later date, so they don’t vote,” from October of last year:

    In the scumbag’s own traitorous words:

    “Make a list… Call them and ask them, ‘Are you going to vote on Issue 2 and are you going to vote for it?’ If they say no, well, you just make sure that they don’t go vote. Let the air out of their tires on election day. Tell them the election has been moved to a different date. That’s up to you how you creatively get the job done.”

    And only last month, this hayseed piece of shit said that media watchdog and fact-checker Media Matters is “operating legally”, and deemed the man behind the site, David Brock, as a “paranoid schizophrenic”. I guess they told the truth about this scumbag to often fro Mikey’s tastes, eh?

    I can only do so many links, or I’d list more of the vile things this scumbag has said.

    Huckabee always has been a moronic bigot, and he always will be.

  11. Aquaria says

    operating “illegally” that is.

    Argh. Is Rev BDC around here and dropping some typo bombs?

  12. Artor says

    I haven’t been following Hickabee, so I couldn’t say for sure, but the impression I’ve gotten is that he’s from about the same neolithic age as Limbaugh, and probably as prone to using his own personal FACTS™ when explaining how Jeebus was the first President, or whatever.
    But he’s not as deliberately obnoxious as Rush. I don’t think he’ll be trying as hard to piss off everyone outside his bubble.
    So dishonest & destructive? Probably business as usual, but maybe a little less disgusting.

  13. says

    Interesting that the statements from Chucklebee Aquaria quotes sounds like what may have happened in the last federal election here in Canada. Commonly refered to as the Robocall Scandal, reports have come out in recent weeks that voters in a number of ridings were called, either by automated systems or live callers, and told the polling location where they were supposed to vote had changed.

  14. exdrone says

    Limbaugh’s verbal attack on Sandra Fluke is indefensible, but of all the outrageous things he has said on his show over the years, it’s funny that the Fluke comment is the incident that may take him down. I guess it’s a tipping point thing.

  15. says

    Much has been made of Rushit’s massively rewarding contract with the broadcaster; is there any sort of performance or profitability clause written into the thing?

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