After days of news coverage, one wonders how much bigger damage there would have been had Limbaugh made the same "slut" remark about a Georgetown University student on his nationally syndicated TV talk show that ran between 1992 and 1996?
Things would have been worse. TV shows typically have a higher presence -- and are more easily repeated. Throw in today’s fuel of social media, and you’d have a bigger fire.
We know this. Big TV ratings still draw advertisers -- even with controversy attached. What remains is a smaller list of marketers, typically ones with lower content criteria issues. Since Limbaugh's remarks, and theoretically his apology, almost 30 advertisers have fled his radio show.
In TV, shows can get access to several hundred higher profile national advertisers and of course, many more advertisers who can buy local time. From the national point of view, a misplaced remark here or there can drop that potential list of advertisers to around 90 or 100. What is left are many direct, per-inquiry and Internet marketers who have lower content qualifications. Hello, AshleyMadison.com.
From a business point of view, I'm sure that Limbaugh’s handlers are looking at this as a somewhat difficult period -- but not the end.
Think about Glenn Beck on Fox News. He lost a bunch of advertisers for the sometimes crazy things he said on air, such as calling the President a "racist." It wasn't until well afterwards that his big 2 million-plus viewers started to drift lower. That's when Fox News executives did the math and realized there was little to no upside in keeping him.
Limbaugh's numbers are still very big on radio. He would need to fall pretty far before his syndicator and local stations would mull a change. But on TV, still a bigger stage than radio, this kind of ratings entropy has a shorter time span.