Donald Trump’s Colossal Free Media Coverage Adds Up To Over $2 Billion, See The Numbers

Donald Trump’s colossal free media coverage has gotten him the kind of attention that only the other presidential candidates can dream of. Trump is completely self-funded and has skipped the process of organizing field offices like the rest of the candidates.

The New York Times reports that Donald Trump doesn’t even have a Super PAC. The enormous media coverage he’s received has amounted to not in the millions of dollars, but billions. Every major network — as well as the cable networks — cover his rallies, speeches, and commentary.

Television ad campaigns are by far the largest expenditure in any campaign. SMG Delta, a firm that tracks television advertising, reveals that in February, Trump only spent $10 million in advertising dollars. Compare that to Jeb Bush, one of the former GOP candidates who aggressively attacked Trump through TV advertising, spent $82 million in an attempt to topple him.

MediaQuant, a firm that tracks media coverage of each candidate that calculates paid versus free advertising rates. Aside from broadcast coverage, this includes print, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and other social media platforms. According to the statistics, Donald Trump has only paid $10 million to-date and is just shy of $2 billion of getting free media coverage. His Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, has paid $28 million in advertising and received $746 million in free media attention.

In February alone, Trump had $400 million in free media. The report notes that the amount equals about what John McCain spent on his entire 2008 presidential campaign, and is more than Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton’s free media coverage combined.

Media Matters reports that the Fox News Channel has given $30 million in free media to Trump from May through December 15, 2015. He appeared on the network for nearly 23 hours; no other candidate had more than 10 hours on the network during that time period. During that time, Trump had an audience of 306,104,725. Those numbers came from the media monitoring service, IQ Media.

The downfall of all the free media coverage for Donald Trump — as well as Hillary Clinton — is that not all of it is positive. MediaQuant collects all relative data of unpaid media coverage whether it’s positive, neutral, or negative. Examples of this are Congress’s Benghazi hearings concerning Clinton and violence and fights taking place at Trump campaign rallies. These instances aren’t the best type of media coverage for two candidates running for the nation’s highest office.

The Washington Post revealed that Optimus Consulting, a Republican data analytics firm that has conducted research for a super PAC backing Marco Rubio, broke down the cost of airing an ad on Fox News. The analytics firm further suggests that Trump has amassed closer to $2.8 billion in free media coverage.

Optimus explains: “We can get a good approximation for the value of this time by looking at what it would cost to have bought comparable airtime on the same channel. For example, buying a 30-second ad spot on Fox News, nationwide, in the 2 p.m. ET time block would cost around $10,000. So if you wanted a minute of time, you’d have to pay $20,000. If a campaign wanted to buy 20 minutes of time (like Trump received during his press conference), the cost would be $400,000. Using this logic, we conclude that Trump was given airtime to push his message that was worth $1.01 million dollars during his press conference alone.

“Post-coverage took many forms: quick recaps of the conference from reporters, soundbites from Trump’s major quotes, panel discussions of the conference; CNN even had Mr. Trump call-in live to discuss his 40-minute press conference. These were panels that were not discussing if Cruz or Bush or Kasich or Rubio were surging; they were instead, once again, talking about Trump and his main messaging points. In any campaign, the most expensive costs are TV ads. As this final chart below illustrates, Optimus calculates that the free exposure Mr. Trump received from cable television on Monday alone is the equivalent of $2.8 billion dollars in free TV media.”

An argument was raised that cable news has “donated” $2.8 billion in free advertising to Trump. The GOP presidential candidate draws enormous viewership and networks aren’t going to miss their chance at drawing a mammoth audience. Fox News host Megyn Kelly admits Donald Trump is “a gift to the media.”

[Photo by AP Photo/Gerald Herbert]