If you happen to be one of the 11 million people that like Donald Trump’s Facebook page, you will have received a notification reminding you to tune into a live-stream before the final presidential debate on Wednesday.
The 8.9 million viewers that subsequently watched the broadcast — whether in real-time or after it was aired — may have caught the first glimpse of Trump TV, the rumored news network the presidential hopeful could launch if his bid to make it into the White House does not materialize.
Unlike Trump’s previous Facebook Live videos, the broadcast adopted a news program format before and after the debate, with its very own hosts, guests, and political analysts. Considering the Trump campaign already labels its social media videos as #TrumpTV, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if they acted as a launchpad to an eventual news network.
The stream was hosted by Trump advisers Boris Epshteyn and Cliff Sims and shot by conservative digital media outlet Right Side Broadcasting Network. The two segments of pre- and post-debate commentary came live and direct from the campaign’s spin room, and lasted 30 minutes and 90 minutes respectively. Also featured on the live-stream were notable guests (and Trump advocates) Eric Trump, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.
Rumblings of a Trump TV network gathered steam earlier this month, after it was revealed that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner (owner of the Observer Media Group) had met with media industry adviser Aryeh Bourkoff. Trump himself quashed the speculation last month. “I have no interest in a media company. False rumor,” he told the Washington Post.
Breaking into the competitive world of cable news won’t be an easy or inexpensive task. Therefore, it is also being suggested that Trump TV may end up remaining an online news network that can tap into the Republican candidate’s massive social media following. It may even be a simple case of Trump providing supporters with an alternative news outlet, away from the mainstream media, which Trump has repeatedly lambasted on the campaign trail.
Overall, the live-stream is being viewed as a success. Viewers were presented with a plea to donate to Trump’s campaign, and the live footage was interspersed with pro-Trump ads. As a result, $9 million were raised off the back of the broadcast, reports Politico.