NBC's Trump Town Hall Coverage Lost Viewers, Probably Money, Too

NBC’s widely criticized President Trump Town Hall -- which replaced a Biden-Trump debate due to Covid-19 issues -- offered up low ratings, little in the way of TV commercial revenue and no real news information from Trump.

What was gained? More reasons why voters need to value media that asks tough political questions. While there was no debate, there were serious questions from Savannah Guthrie, a host on NBC’s “Today” Show, to Trump.

NBC aired the Trump Town Hall “motivated only by fairness, not business considerations,” according to Cesar Conde, chairman of the NBCU News Group. Well, considering the few TV commercials that were sold in the event, that seemed about right.

The fairness part was that NBC previously air Vice President Biden's Town Hall event on Oct. 5 at 8 p.m. NBC wanted to do exactly the same for Trump.

Guthrie pressed Trump about issues including his handling of COVID-19, Obamacare and taxes (overall corporate taxes and Trump’s own tax situation), conspiracy theorist organizations, voter ballot fraud, and of course, Russian interference in the 2016 election.



Post-game analysis -- fact-checking of Trump -- from Rachel Maddow on her MSNBC show revealed a lot of incorrect/false information from the President.

If this were another time, another age, another venue perhaps, someone might say it was a good “get” by a TV network to interview a U.S. president. But history reveals that an interview with Trump doesn’t offer much news that can be confirmed.

Now the money part: Both NBC and ABC each were charging around $180,000 to $200,000 per 30-second unit pricing for their respective Town Halls, according to reports. That’s a decent price. But again, there wasn’t that much ad time to sell in this Town Hall.

Before the event, Trump did his best to manufacture rage, calling out NBCU owner Comcast Corp. Trump's tweet: “So I’m being set up tonight. Going on Con-cast NBC.”

In the end, Trump made a business/political decision: “They asked me if I'd do it, I figured, What the hell? We got a free hour on television and we got @SavannahGuthrie. She’s always lovely, isn’t she?”

Television news and content decisions bring out the best in people.

3 comments about "NBC's Trump Town Hall Coverage Lost Viewers, Probably Money, Too".
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  1. Dan Ciccone from STACKED Entertainment, October 19, 2020 at 11:44 a.m.

    I typically stay away from these political commentaries; however, it would be nice if Mediapost could remain impartial and just report facts vs. misrepresenting the facts.  I understand this is an op-ed, but as an opinion piece, you are still expected to present information in the correct context.

    Biden averaged 14.1 million viewers and Trump averaged 13.5 million viewers - a 4% difference.  Most of the criticism for the NBC town hall came from within NBC, as well as celebrities.  However, many people expressed they would watch Biden over Trump because they already know what Trump is all about and many were looking to see if Biden would implode.  Listening to social media, many expressed that they turned off the NBC Town Hall because it was a debate with Guthrie vs. an actual town hall where the consituents led the conversation - and USAToday and CNN even ran stories that Guthrie acted more like a debate opponent  vs. a moderator facilitating a conversation with voters.  Unlike Stephanopoloous who barely asked any questions of Biden and let him ramble at length.

    It would be wonderful if Mediapost and its subsidiaries and its commentaries remained objective and balanced evaluating the media landscape because most "news" outlets are anything but at this point.

  2. Scott Gerschwer from Compart NA, October 19, 2020 at 12:21 p.m.

    "many were looking to see if Biden would implode"???

    is that a fact? 



  3. Bill Shane from Eastlan Ratings replied, October 19, 2020 at 5:51 p.m.

    Dan, I see very little out of balance in this op-ed.  Wayne's reporting on Trump during the town hall was spot on and really wasn't a huge rip on DJT.  I disagree with NBC's explanation as to why they aired it when they did.  They could have aired it the following night at 8pm or any other night of the week.  The complaints I heard had to do with putting it on the exact same day and time as Biden's town hall on ABC.  The different styles of the Trump and Biden, I believe is the reason why the moderators carried out their duties by such a varied degree.  Biden stays on topic and usually gives somewhat of a direct answer.  Trump on the other hand, drifts off into other topics while he's ramping up his rage. He also questioned Guthrie and why NBC did this or didn't do that.  It's no secret Trump makes up stats a 

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