CNN is asking for a minimum commitment of $300,000 in network advertising from sponsors interested in running commercials during the upcoming Democratic presidential debates, according a report from Variety published on Wednesday. A 30-second advertisement during next week’s event in Detroit allegedly costs close to $110,000.
Katrina Cukaj, an executive vice president of ad sales at WarnerMedia, the media conglomerate owned by AT&T that CNN is a part of, underscored the entertainment value of watching a bunch of people in suits shout over each other. The twenty candidates, split over July 30 and 31, each only have minutes to address political issues.
“There is significant demand around our debates,” Cukaj told Variety. She continued, “There are some really intense storylines that came out of that [previous Democratic] debate. I think the curiosity around those storylines is at a peak,” she said, apparently referring to the moment when California Senator Kamala Harris confronted former Vice President Joe Biden about school busing, a fight that Harris quickly abandoned.
“I will tell you,” Cukaj said, “we are nearly sold out. We’ve got a couple of pending accounts still in there, but we are going to be done pretty much any day now.”
Cable news networks have been criticized for covering President Donald Trump for his entertainment value. For example, last year, CNN President Jeff Zucker told Vanity Fair that the network relies on Trump coverage.
“People say all the time, ‘Oh, I don’t want to talk about Trump, I’ve had too much Trump,’ ” he said. “And yet at the end of the day, all they want to do is talk about Trump.”
“We’ve seen that anytime you break away from the Trump story and cover other events in this era, the audience goes away,” he said. “So we know that, right now, Donald Trump dominates.”
CNN treats presidential debates like the Super Bowl. And no matter which side is winning, the corporation comes out on top.