While 2018 is still fairly new, the wireless carriers have already spent a ton on TV ads this year. Verizon is leading the way, at least according to iSpot.tv which tracks this data. So it's important to note that this data is not 100% accurate, as it is not data that the carriers' marketing teams have made public, but based on how many times ads have been played, and when they've been played.
According to this data, Verizon has spent $78.1 million so far in 2018 on TV ads. With 13 different ads being run over 6,500 times. Verizon has garnered around 3.1 billion TV ad impressions, and it prioritized content on CBS, FOX and NBC networks. With the majority of ads being played during NFL Football, NBA Basketball, and the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards. Now T-Mobile has come in second here, spending $57.4 million, which included six ads running over 7,300 times. T-Mobile garnered 2.3 billion TV ad impressions, with them spending the most of its ad budget on FOX, NBC and ABC and NFL Football, The Four: Battle for Stardom and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit being the most popular programs that ran its ads.
Sprint comes in third, spending around $39.9 million so far in 2018. There are 16 different ads that have been run over 7,100 times, and generated 2 billion TV ad impressions for the nation's smallest carrier. Sprint spent the most money on NBC, FOX and ABC, with the most going to NFL Football, NBA Basketball and South Park. Finally, there was AT&T, who spent $24.5 million on eight different ads that were ran 1,500 times. AT&T picked up 1.1 billion TV ad impressions, and spent the most on ESPN, CBS, and ABC networks. With the most money spent on the College Football Playoff National Championship, NFL Football and the 2017-2018 Rose Bowl.
There's a pretty central theme among all four of these carriers. For the most part, they advertised on channels that had local affiliates, and during sporting events. AT&T spent a good amount on college football, including the Rose Bowl and the National Championship. That shouldn't be a surprise, since the company is a sponsor for college football. The choice for Sprint to toss a lot of advertising dollars during South Park is a bit of an interesting one. For the most part, these numbers line up with previous reports on marketing dollars for all four carriers, with Verizon spending the most, followed by T-Mobile, then Sprint and AT&T. Keep in mind that these numbers are for January only, so that does not include spending on Super Bowl ads, which will likely make February's numbers look much higher in comparison.