Magazine article Variety

Trump TV a Foregone Conclusion

Magazine article Variety

Trump TV a Foregone Conclusion

Article excerpt

THE FINAL PRESIDENTIAL debate erased all doubt that Team Trump has ambitions to launch a branded media venture after the election.

Donald Trump's campaign turned to Facebook Live to deliver news-style coverage of the Oct. 19 debate, as well as post-debate commentary and analysis declaring a resounding victory. Via social media posts, Trump himself encouraged supporters to watch the Facebook Live coverage in order to avoid what he has described as bias in the "mainstream media." The drumbeat of accusations that the media are attempting to rig the election in favor of Hillary Clinton is seen in industry circles as advance promotional work for the launch of what has been dubbed "Trump TV."

The Facebook Live debate broadcast, anchored primarily by Trump campaign advisors Boris Epshteyn and CliffSims, had a public-access feel at times, with audio glitches and less-than-polished transitions between guests and commentators. The turnout for the live broadcast was modest, in the hundreds of thousands at its peak. But by early the next morning, the roughly two-hour video had racked up more than 8.4 million views.

Those numbers are sure to fuel desire to put the Trump stamp on a TV or digital service that could leverage the base of supporters he has built up during nearly 18 months on the campaign trail. The Facebook Live stream was enabled by a grassroots You- Tube effort dubbed Right Side Broadcasting, a channel launched last year by Trump supporter Joe Seales to offer live streaming of campaign events.

Industry observers say a Trump-affiliated media effort would likely focus on a digital service. A linear TV channel launch would be hard for any entity to pull offright now, given the upheaval among MVPDs and the growing focus on slimming (not expanding) channel packages.

On top of that, Trump's polarizing positions on political and social issues make him toxic to most mainstream distributors and advertisers. A subscription streaming service, possibly with some advertising component, is the more likely route.

Sources say the venture might not be formally owned by Trump. The track record of conservative media personality Glenn Beck suggests that a successful Trump TV venture could gross $40 million to $50 million per year at the outset - small change compared with the real estate that is the core of Trump's empire. …

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