Spectral absorption behavior of Disperse Red-1 and Disperse Red-19 dyes incorporated into a series of polymers by covalent attachment, representing various chemical structures, is characterized by photothermal deflection spectroscopy. Of particular interest are the spectral characteristics of the red edge of the main dye electronic absorption peak, and the fine structure in the near-IR, dominated by overtones of fundamental C-H and O-H stretching modes. The spectral structure in these key regions can be influenced by inter- and intramolecular interactions, or conformational or configurational changes in the dye. The NIR structure, in turn, will dictate absorption loss in optical devices prepared from these materials at key transmission wavelengths (1.3 and 1.55 um) for waveguide devices. A well characterized dye-polymer system, DR1-PMMA, is compared with two other polymer systems. Differences in spectral absorption behavior is assessed in terms of polymer host structure and bonding environment.