TV Debate Political Plan: RNC Working Over Small, Mid-Sized Networks?

With election season just around the corner, the battle of the TV networks to get major awareness from Presidential debates is in full swing. 

Primarily, that means the control levers for Republican National Committee this time around.

With major TV news networks getting their fair share -- ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN -- small networks are fighting tooth and nail to get in the mix.

More pressure is now put on up and coming wannabe big TV news channel players NewsNation and Newsmax to make hay. And there is money to consider: Near-term production costs for the event.

For example, Axios reported the Republican National Committee priced the upcoming GOP debate in Alabama on Wednesday at $4 million in production expenses for Newsmax -- somewhat pricer than Newsmax executives believed it should be.



Instead the deal went to Nexstar Media Group's NewsNation, another new and mid-sized cable TV news competitor. The event will also air on Nexstar TV stations and on The CW in some time zones.

One single high-attention single debate event can spike a small TV network's average nightly prime-time audience. So this can be crucial in an election period where news networks audiences typically climb.  

However, while more money is one major goal for the RNC, another is reaching a wide audience to sell one's messaging. The problem there is that some Republicans don't want to be on “mainstream media” -- as they would term it -- and would rather stay in the silo of conservative-leaning news networks, which include smaller niche channels.

Of course, the missing factor for any TV networks doing the GOP debates is the current Presidential contender leading all Republican candidates: Donald Trump, who can raise viewership with loosey-goosey, outrageous content.

News TV networks can only do so much to boost their audiences from the daily news cycle -- even getting many political candidates or personalities to sit and do an special “exclusive” interview.

Dramatic Presidential debates spectacles with more mud-slinging are perhaps the easiest way to gain some new ongoing viewers.

But when the content owners of those events --- like the RNC -- are looking for money, viewership, and impact -- they want the biggest players in the mix. 

So what can smaller players get?

Supposedly,  the RNC proposed Newsmax co-sponsor the third GOP debate as a “junior partner” to that of ABC News -- all for the nifty price tag of $2 million for that second-seat position. 

That was rejected by Newsmax, according to Axios. NBC News ended up getting to air that event, but with just 6.8 million viewers in the sans-Trump political show.

Bottom line: Money and clout still carry some heft no matter what side of the fence -- political or media-wise -- you are sitting on.

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