“Democrats are becoming the party of the celebrity sockpuppet.”
Polarization as a business model
This is an astute piece by Robert Tracinski:
It all makes sense as a short-term strategy. How long it can work really depends on the viewers and advertisers. We know viewers are going away so it is really just a question of milking the late night gig for as much as possible before it all goes away.
Maybe viewership is declining because late-night talk show hosts have become more political (and less funny). Or maybe the hosts are getting more political because their viewership is declining.
What were once cultural institutions with a broad, bipartisan audience are becoming niche players with a narrow fan base. They no longer view partisan politics as a dangerous move that will shrink their audience. Instead, they’re using partisan politics as a lure to secure the loyalty of their audience, or what is left of it. Not that it’s going to work over the long term, because people who want to have their biases confirmed will just watch the five-minute YouTube clip Chris Cillizza links to the next day.
How long will advertisers keep chasing those shrinking left-wing audiences?
On one hand, this remains true:
I wonder, however, if advertisers will stick with Kimmel and Colbert as they go hard left. The hosts have explicitly chosen a side in the Cold Civil War. Do advertisers really want to join them?
MSM: Shrinking Audience, Leftward Drift
Media companies have an additional layer of insulation. Their advertising revenue is based on more factors than the absolute size of the audience. As long as broadcast networks are larger than their competition, they can command a premium CPM. They remain the only game in town for advertisers who want to make a big splash. In addition, it is easy to cook up justifications and rationalizations about the elite nature of their audience, their higher spending in key categories, their role as influencers. (CNN has been successful doing this versus Fox.)
Much of this is poppycock and will not stand up to scrutiny. But here is the rub: liberal advertising types in Manhattan or San Francisco see no reason to scrutinize them. For one thing, it plays to their ego. ("People like me are more important than the masses who eat at Crackerbarrel and live in places like Stoughton, Wisconsin.") Second, they are not spending their money.
Colbert can appeal to SJWs by mocking Deplorables and conservatives. His targets can do nothing except not watch him. His business model does not depend on the largest possible audience merely the largest audience in a highly fragmented landscape. So the Colbert-SJW lovefest goes on.
The business model runs on advertising revenue and that means big brands. Big brands that want big market shares. How many of those marketers want to start out by alienating 40-60% of their potential customers.
For Kimmel or Colbert a 4% market share is a cause for celebration. That same market share would mark the end of the world for Pepsi and Budweiser.