We’re starting to see some confirmation of a phenomenon that Ed and I were discussing immediately after the first GOP debate. You can find any number of talking heads on cable news who really seem to despise Donald Trump and have an endless supply of comments about how he’s ruining America, the democratic process or the Republican Party. But you’ll also notice that not only don’t they stop talking about him, but each and every time he shows up at a town hall event or an appearance at a football stadium, all the networks switch over and breathlessly broadcast his speeches from beginning to end. This is in sharp contrast to some of the other candidates who are lucky if a twenty second clip from one of their appearances makes it into the opening bumper on Morning Joe the next day. Have you wondered why that is?
Well wonder no more. (LA Times)
…Trump has become the star of the summer’s biggest TV hit — news coverage of his quest for the Republican nomination.
The unpredictable front-runner’s news conferences, speeches and interviews are ratings gold whenever he shows up on CNN, Fox News Channel or MSNBC. The audience of 24 million viewers for Fox’s Republican Primary debate on Aug. 6 was a record for cable news and three times as large as the channel expected.
CNN is not disclosing its ratings projections or ad prices, but competitors are hearing that advertisers are being asked to pay in the range of $150,000 for a 30-second spot, a figure more in line with a hit prime time entertainment show.
“It’s a lot more than we’d get if Trump weren’t in it,” said one CNN executive not authorized to discuss the figure.
The debates are a given, but each of his speeches are a big draw. This shouldn’t come as any surprise to people who follow the industry… you get paid by the number of eyeballs you can draw. On the night that Trump gave his big speech in an Alabama football stadium all of the news networks cleaned up. People were tuning away from popular network shows to watch. When The Donald sat down for an interview with Meet the Press on August 20 it was the highest rated show that they’ve had in nearly two years. Trump gets major sports events ratings for what would otherwise never attract the people who would usually be watching Sports Center or The Big Bang Theory. And when you draw a lot of eyeballs you keep on delivering the goods as long as the goose will lay more golden eggs.
So how does Trump do it? It may come as a shock to find out that somebody who has been quite successful already in not only business but the world of television knows some of the ground rules of the game. They mention the fact that Trump refuses to show up in person for interviews on most of the cable news shows, preferring to call in. When he does do in person interviews, they take place at his Manhattan offices in front of all of Trump’s branding. No other candidates are afforded these luxuries. So how does he do it? Because he sets the rules and they know that he’s ratings gold, so the reporters dutifully show up where the money is. The other candidates have communications directions throwing themselves at the cable news shows like harlots and they wait their turn. Trump, on the other hand, controls the access to a limited commodity.
Come to think of it… this really isn’t much of a mystery at all.