SAN DIEGO, November 8, 2015 – Love him or hate him, one thing is undeniable about Donald Trump. He knows how to make a buck. For television networks, Trump means ratings, and ratings translate into profits.
Trump’s appearance on the NBC late night comedy-variety series “Saturday Night Live” shows that Trump hasn’t worn out his welcome just yet. His hosting assignment produced the highest ratings for SNL in four years.
The Nielsen rating system reports the show was up 57 percent from this season’s overall average, which is reported as a 6.6 rating/16 share. This translates to about nine million people. The last time ratings were this high was January 7, 2012. Former NBA star Charles Barkley was the host, and the musical guest was Kelly Clarkson. Last year’s best rated edition was the show hosted by Chris Rock, with musical guest Prince.
Trump has produced record ratings for all of the Republican debates and for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” when he appeared in September.
Trump’s actual performance was record breaking in another surprising way. For all the buzz surrounding his appearance including protests and threats of boycotts, he was only on screen for 12 minutes. This may have been due to concerns by NBC about the FCC’s “equal time” provision. Any political candidate given air time outside of what is described as “bona fide news coverage” opens the door for any other political candidate in the same race to ask for equal air time; it need not be the exact same show, but one with equivalent exposure (either ratings or audience demographics).
By comparison, when comedienne Amy Schumer hosted the show, she appeared on screen for 24 minutes, exactly double that of Trump.
All of the candidates struggling to gain a foothold in the race would be smart to ask for their time from NBC. But only a few would be worth watching on SNL: Chris Christie could handle it, and so could Mike Huckabee. Carly Fiorina and Jeb Bush shouldn’t even think about it.
Not that the bar is set very high. Trump was frequently stiff and obviously reading cue cards. Most of the guests have the cue cards available as a backup, but Trump is not practiced in using them and it showed. The opening monologue which matched Trump with Taran Killam and Darrell Hammond impersonating him was visually amusing enough to score a few laughs.
The comedy star of the show recently is guest actor Larry David as Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who gets funnier every week. David also appeared as himself during Trump’s opening monologue. Standing in the audience, David shouted out “You’re a racist! Trump’s a racist!” followed by “I heard if I yelled that, they’d give me $5,000.”
The ‘they’ David referred to is the activist group Deport Racism 2016, which publicly pledged earlier in the week it would pay anyone in the audience $5,000 to say “Trump is a racist” on the air during the show.
Trump responded, “As a businessman, I can fully respect that.”
David gets the last laugh. After the show, Deport Racism tweeted it would make good on his heckling because it met their requirements, and they would cough up the $5,000. Being the mensch he is, I fully expect that Larry David will donate the money to a group he supports.
Now, could we please have Bernie Sanders ask for equal time and then have him give it to Larry David to impersonate him for 12 minutes on an upcoming SNL?
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Media Migraine in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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