Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
Donald Trump took his penchant for calling news outlets and their reports “fake news” one step further on Wednesday when he called for NBC’s license to be challenged after NBC published a story saying Trump called for a “tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal.” Though NBC and networks may be worried right now, in reality, they’ve profited since Trump’s campaign began.
Despite Trump’s attacks on the media potentially hurting news media credibility, viewership and readership have also risen for outlets amid the conflicts with Trump, as Niall Stanage argues in The Hill.
Most of the initial boosts occurred immediately following the election. This time was known as the “Trump Bump,” as subscribers and viewers rose.
Here are media companies making a profit off Trump’s attention.
Though print circulation and advertising revenue continues to be low for newspapers, the number of digital subscriptions to publications like The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have risen. As the Pew Research Center reports, in 2016 there was a “47 percent year-over-year rise” for the Times, and a 23 percent rise for the Journal. In August of this year the Washington Post recorded a “12 percent year-over-year” user increase.
Local papers are still struggling to compete, and are impacted by regional politics. However, for national publications like the Times, the “Trump Bump” is continuing — as of July 2017, its stock was at a “nine-year high” according to CNBC.
For cable news, there’s a fight for viewership, though data show that the total viewing of the Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC is “up 33 percent through the first week of June compared with the same period last year.”
The cable news growth for networks like MSNBC is grounded in the surge of popularity around anchors, including Rachel Maddow, who as Variety reports had “triple-digit gains.” According to a New York Times Magazine piece on CNN and Jeff Zucker, last year was “the most profitable year in CNN’s history.”
Since the election, political commentary has reigned in late-night talk shows. Stephen Colbert’s show on CBS has had rising viewership. At the beginning of the 2017-2018 late-night season, Colbert is still pulling in the most viewers, but Jimmy Kimmel has seen his viewer stats rise by 9 percent.
The past season of Saturday Night Live presented its share of political bite, from Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer to Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump. Viewership rose by 44 percent, but the premiere of this year’s season had a smaller opening than last year’s.
Industry numbers fluctuate regarding the longevity of the “Trump bump” and its impact on revenue and viewers. Time will tell how Trump’s tweets and his next fit of “fake news” accusations will impact audience interest in the outlets themselves.