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Candidates and super PACs shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars to reach voters during Denver Broncos games in election years, hoping to parlay big viewership into a touchdown on Election Day. 

And 2022 is no exception.

A Broncos game is typically the most expensive ad time available in Colorado’s three TV advertising markets — Denver, Colorado Springs and Grand Junction. It’s easy to tell why: nearly 20 million people watched the Broncos lose Sept. 12 to the Seattle Seahawks. And TV ads are often a statewide or congressional candidate’s best shot at influencing voters.

The TV ad air-time rates are most expensive in Denver and least expensive in Grand Junction, though they vary among stations in a single market. And super PACs pay far more than candidates as part of requirements under federal campaign finance law.

The cost of a Denver Broncos ad varied on the Sept. 25 game on NBC depending on when the ad aired and whether it was purchased by a candidate or super PAC. From top, the price for American Policy Fund in the U.S. Senate contest, 8th Congressional District Republican candidate Barbara Kirkmeyer and Democratic Gov. Jared Polis.

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The Colorado Sun examined ad contracts for the Broncos’ 11-10 win Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers, as well as the Broncos’ upcoming Oct. 2 matchup with the 0-3 Las Vegas Raiders.

The American Policy Fund, a federal super PAC aligned with Republicans, spent $75,000 on an ad attacking Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet during Sunday’s game on KUSA-TV, also known as 9News. But Bennet and Democratic Gov. Jared Polis each spent only $30,000 for 30-second spots on the same station during the game. 

And 8th Congressional District Republican candidate Barbara Kirkmeyer’s campaign spent $60,000 on a 30-second spot during the same game. Kirkmeyer’s ad was more costly because it aired in the middle of the game instead of before the start or after the game ended.

The Polis campaign spent $7,000 to air two ads during Sunday’s game on KOAA-TV in Colorado Springs, the NBC affiliate in southern Colorado. State-level Democratic super PAC Strong Colorado for All spent $11,250 to air an ad on the station opposing Republican gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl.

In Grand Junction, Polis spent $1,100 for two ads during Sunday’s game on NBC affiliate KKCO-TV.

For the Broncos’ upcoming Oct. 2 game, American Policy Fund will pay KCNC-TV, also known as CBS4, $150,000 to air its anti-Bennet ad. That appears to be the most costly single ad in recent years, according to The Sun’s records. 

Polis and Kirkmeyer are each scheduled to spend $70,000 for 30 seconds of air time during that game. 

Strong Colorado for All is spending $15,000 for a pre-game ad on KCNC.

In the Colorado Springs market, Polis has two ads booked on KKTV-TV, the CBS affiliate in southern Colorado, for the Oct. 2 game, one at a cost of $4,875 and the other for $3,900. The less expensive ad runs 15 seconds rather than 30. 

Strong Colorado for All is spending $12,500 for a pre-game ad in Colorado Springs.

The Polis campaign is also paying $1,500 to KREX-TV in Grand Junction, the CBS affiliate in western Colorado, to air an ad during the Oct. 2 game. 

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The Colorado Sun — Desk: 720-432-2229 Jesse Paul is a political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is...