How Trump Is Making TV Great Again

With his divisive politics and shoot-from-the-lip tweeting, Donald Trump has been the greatest boon to the TV business since, well, anything anyone can remember.

You think it's easy to come up with topical subject matter every single weeknight for a late-night show and the host's monologue?

Well, nowadays, it is easy. Just go and see what Trump has been up to for the last 24 hours and your workday is made if you're part of a late-night writing staff.

If anything, the challenge is not having too little material to work with. It's how to settle on the best parts when this president presents the denizens of the late-night writing rooms with such an embarrassment of riches every day.

Ridiculous tweets? Check. Airy pronouncements about the Mexican border wall or immigration? You've got that covered. Various statements criticizing other politicians both Democrat and Republican? This happens about six times a day.



The late-night shows are all making hay of the president's antics, and reaping more attention than they might otherwise be getting with more ordinary, non-Trump comedy.

Just look at “Saturday Night Live.” Politics has been the show's bread and butter for years. Think Tina Fey as Sarah Palin. But with Trump, the possibilities, situations and characterizations are endless. Just ask Alec Baldwin.

And it's not just the late-night comedy shows. Under normal, non-Trump circumstances, it's just as difficult to come up with story and subject lists for the endless talk shows and segments on the all-news cable channels all day every day.

But not lately -- by which I define “lately” as the last two or three years or so. Like the late-night shows, the planners for TV's news-talk shows and evening newscasts are facing the same kind of cornucopia every day presented by a president who places little or no restrictions on what comes out of his mouth or emanates from the tips of his thumbs on his smartphone keyboard.

The late-night comedians and the cable talk show hosts have at least one thing in common: They are highly critical of the president in the comedy segments and panel discussions they produce.

But at the same time, I will bet they privately thank him every day for the generous gift of timely material he continually bestows upon them, often in the wee hours of the morning before they get to work.

The exception is Fox News Channel, where President Trump is portrayed as the best U.S. president since George Washington. But in doing so, even Fox News is drawing from the same over-supply of subject matter that this president presents daily.

The president and his antics have lifted ratings for at least some of the entities referenced above. Specifically, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Stephen Colbert on CBS and “SNL” have all reportedly increased their viewership in the Trump era.

And there's another place where Trump's roiling of the political waters might help to produce a bonanza next year for the TV business -- the 2018 midterm elections and the advertising money that is projected to be poured into local TV stations for commercial time.

Trump's divisive political tactics have made the nation’s right-left divisions even sharper than ever (something most of us would not have thought possible until Trump did it).

With Democrats more eager than ever before to recapture the House, Senate and state governorships next year -- or at least to add seats -- commercial spending in local television is expected to skyrocket, particularly in markets and regions where races are projected to be closest.

In its biannual projections for election-year ad spending in local TV, Kantar Media predicts political ad spending on local TV stations to total $2.4 billion next year -- up from $2.1 billion in 2014 (the last midterm election year).

Kantar projects spending in local cable of $850 million (up from $650 million in 2014) and $600 million in local digital, up significantly from $250 million in 2014.

Political ad spending has long been a windfall that local TV has been accustomed to receiving every two years (for midterm and presidential elections).

But at least some of the expected spending next year will be due to the general tumultuous, polarized and divisive atmosphere that characterizes the current political era. And who does the TV business have to thank for that? Donald Trump!

Donald Trump photo courtesy of ABC.

4 comments about "How Trump Is Making TV Great Again".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, October 26, 2017 at 10 a.m.

    Let's not forget to give credit to his lackluster opponent for making Trump's rise so easy (despite his vast shortcomings). Although the news is soft-pedaled in the elite press, revelations of her lawyer's dealings ($5.6M) with Russia are interesting, to say the least.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, October 26, 2017 at 10:20 a.m.

    We can all sacrifice fascism for more difficult comedy.

  3. Linda Moskal from WNPV Radio, October 26, 2017 at 10:52 a.m.

    It's not just late-night comedy and talk shows that are benefiting ... regular scripted shows are finding new story lines based on his antics!

  4. Michael Giuseffi from American Media Inc, November 1, 2017 at 1:44 p.m.

    They dumped Garfield and kept this putz..go figure.

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