Market Mad House

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

Market Commentary

Can Trump TV Succeed?

When he leaves the White House, President Donald J. Trump Senior (R-Florida) will be the biggest celebrity in the known universe.

Interestingly, that fame does not guarantee the success of a future Trump media venture. Instead, Trump’s post-presidential media ventures could be dismal failures.

Unfortunately, Reuters offers no details of Trump TV. Instead, I suspect Trump TV is a pipe dream with no concrete plans.

Sorry Donald, Conservative Twitter will fail

Additionally, the Donald is pondering a conservative version of Twitter (TWTR). I think Conservative Twitter is nonsense, or worse a grift to steal money from gullible conservative investors.

To elaborate, I think the only way Conservative Twitter can work is with the support of a social media giant such as Facebook (FB), Alphabet (GOOG), ByteDance LTD, or TikTok Global. I cannot imagine any of those companies going near any Trump venture. Hence, Conservative Twitter is nonsense.

Conservative Twitter will fail because the Trump organization lacks the money and technological expertise to build it. Trump could hire some techies to build a crappy app that loyal followers will download but never use.

Conservative Twitter will be a waste of money, resources, and Trump’s time. Trump has no expertise in social media or technology. Instead, the Donald’s background is in old media and marketing.

A Few Thoughts on Trump TV

I think a Trump media venture could be an enormous success. However, that media venture will need to leverage existing resources and utilize the President’s proven abilities.

Here are my thoughts on how to build a successful Trump Media or Trump TV.

First, do not reinvent the wheel. Instead, leverage existing resources such as cable channels and broadcast networks.

Second, Trump needs to concentrate on what he does best: television. The focus of the Trump Media venture needs to be a Trump Show starring the Donald.

I think the Donald will be Trump media’s only genuine attraction. If Trump will not commit to a weekly, or daily, program, Trump TV will flop.

Third, forget new media such as social media and subscription platforms. Trump is an old media guy and old media people; Baby Boomers, compose his audience. To succeed, Trump will need to meet his audience where they are on cable or free broadcast television.

I do think Trump’s followers will pay a subscription for Trump. On the other hand, those people will tune if Trump TV is free. Hence, Trump TV needs to be a free-advertising supported channel or program.

To elaborate, one of today’s most insightful media strategists Professor Scott Galloway tells The Realignment divides today’s audience into Android and Apple (AAPL) customers. Apple customers are those willing to pay a subscription for access to enormous amounts of contents.

For instance, the billion hours of TV you get from a Netflix (NFLX) subscription. Galloway’s theory is that the root of Apple’s popularity is offering access to enormous amounts of content and many services for a low fee.

Android users will only watch content if it is free. In contrast to Apple subscribers, Android users will put up with advertising in exchange for free or cheap content. To explain, Alphabet’s (GOOG) Android and YouTube are enormous platforms full of free apps and content.

I think Android customers comprise Trump’s army of followers. Hence, Trump fans will watch a free YouTube video of the president or a Trump talk show with commercials. However, the same people will not pay a cent for Trump TV.

How to Make Trump TV Work

To succeed, Trump TV will need to be free, widely available, and easy to access. Fortunately for Trump, there are two widespread mediums that those criteria.

Those mediums are cable and broadcast TV. Importantly, Trump’s aging followers use those mediums each day and are familiar with them.

Accordingly, I think Trump’s first move needs to be to pitch a Trump Show to every cable and broadcast network. To attract network interest, they need to make The Trump Show cheap and simple.

I think the Trump Show needs to be a basic talk show. Trump sitting behind a desk. The show can begin with a monologue and feature some news segments and interviews with news makers or celebrities.

I think TV networks will want The Trump Show because they can put it on fast. Trump is in an influential position because he can provide hundreds of hours of low-cost programming with a built-in audience.

If Trump is smart, he will have a Trump Show ready to go as soon as he leaves the White House. A clever move for Trump is to build a TV studio at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. That way the Donald can golf all day and rant and rave on TV for a few hours each night.

How to Distribute Trump TV

I think Trump needs to forget about a TV network for now and concentrate on the Trump Show. Instead of building a new network, the Donald needs to leverage an existing one.

Trump needs to pitch The Trump Show to all the companies that own broadcast and cable TV networks; Fox (FOX), Disney (DIS), Comcast (CMCSA), ViacomCBS (VIAC), and AT&T (T). To succeed, they need to put The Trump Show on the free network with the largest audience that gives the Donald the best deal.

I think a network such as CBS, FX, or TBS could give Trump a cut of the advertising revenue in exchange for the Trump Show. I think TV networks will fight for The Trump Show because of coronavirus.

To explain, TV networks have dozens of hours of airtime to fill and no original programming to run. Coronavirus has shut TV production down for months and forced cancellation. Trump has a show with a built-in audience he can put into production immediately. 

Moreover, the Trump Show could be Covid proof because the Donald can produce the show from a sealed and socially distanced studio. Plus, any guests can join Trump via Zoom for an added layer of safety.

I suspect broadcast networks such as CBS or NBC and cable channels such as TBS, MSNBC, or CNN will take the risk of running a Trump Show because they are desperate. Trump is a proven ratings getter, and he is available.

Vanity Fair claims Trump’s reality TV classic The Apprentice was the number-one show on TV with 31 million viewers. Now, Trump can return with a new and more controversial reality show.

How To Launch Trump TV

Therefore, I think Trump needs to put The Trump Show into production as soon as he leaves office and offer it to the networks. Once The Trump Show is a hit and making money, the Donald can start building Trump TV.

Intriguingly, I think the Trump Show or Trump TV could be a good fit for a traditional broadcast network such as CBS or an entertainment cable channel such as TBS. Thus, there is no reason for a Trump news channel.

Trump TV could succeed as an entertainment channel. I think Trump TV could succeed as an entertainment channel because Trump is a lifestyle brand. To explain, Trump offers an alternative to the modern American lifestyle for aging and increasingly disillusioned Baby Boomers. Trump rallies, protests and boat parades, for example, give bored and broke Baby Boomers free activities.

I think cable and broadcast executives will consider the Trump Show because of their low ratings. For example, NBC America’s most watched network attracted 5.9 million viewers in a nation of 331 million people during the Week of 9-15 November 2020, TV Newscheck claims.

If Trump’s show attracts 500,000 viewers a night, advertisers and network executives will listen to his pitch. Moreover, network executives could offer Trump an existing channel if he has a hit show. For instance, AT&T could offer Trump TBS to play with.

Thus, Trump could build Trump TV fast without the expense of creating a network. For example, Trump could fill Trump TV with reruns of The Apprentice, The Celebrity Apprentice, The Dukes of Hazard; or Law & Order, or infomercials, and have the Trump Show as the only original program. Then slowly add new shows as the network gains ratings.

Additionally, they need to have a free version of The Trump Show available as a YouTube video or a podcast right after Trump leaves office. That way Trump can show TV networks hard numbers of all the people who watch him. Plus Trump could make money from YouTube or podcast advertising.

I think Trump TV could be a lucrative and successful media property if Trump launches it fast and keeps costs low. However, given Trump’s track record, I think Trump TV could become a disaster.