CNN to include commercials in Presidential Debate, breaking tradition

CNN is set to air the first presidential debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump in the lead-up to the 2024 election. However, viewers may also be interrupted by commercials, which is a departure from the ad-free format that has been maintained by the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates for many years.

The decision to include commercials in the debate was outlined in rules for access recently issued to members of the DC Television News Pool and CNN affiliates. Networks will also have the option to sell their own commercials rather than airing the ones provided by CNN. The specifics of the number and length of ad breaks have not yet been disclosed.

This unique plan could potentially allow other networks, such as Fox News Channel or MSNBC, to make more money off the debate by selling their own commercials. CNN has faced challenges in recent months with a lackluster program schedule, which has impacted its ratings in prime time slots.

Despite the commercial interruptions, CNN has announced that Dana Bash and Jake Tapper will moderate the debate between Biden and Trump. Advertisers have traditionally been interested in the presidential debates, finding creative ways to engage with viewers before or after the event. In past years, advertisers have run commercials that play off the debate atmosphere to capture audience attention.

The presidential debates have proven to be lucrative for TV networks, with CBS seeking between $200,000 and $225,000 for a 30-second ad during coverage following a Trump-Clinton debate in 2016. CNN also sought a commitment of around $300,000 in advertising before allowing sponsors the opportunity to purchase commercials during Democratic presidential debates in 2019.

Overall, the inclusion of commercials during the upcoming presidential debate on CNN is a departure from tradition but could present new opportunities for networks and advertisers to capitalize on the event.


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