Trump loves to say media companies are ‘failing’ — here’s how they’re actually performing

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President Donald Trump watching the Super Bowl
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Reuters/Carlos Barria

President Donald Trump often labels media companies as “failing.” He’s taken shots at BuzzFeed during press conferences. He’s repeatedly pounded on CNN, and particularly enjoyed that network’s recent journalism stumble.

And of course, Trump has hammered the MSNBC show “Morning Joe” this week, causing a political firestorm that has stretched across both parties.

If you follow the advertising business, you’d not be surprised to hear that traditional media business models are under a lot of pressure as consumer consumption habits are going through rapid changes driven by technology.

But here’s an ongoing question: are the media companies Trump refers to as “failing” actually failing?

Here’s a look at how these companies are performing from an audience and financial perspective.


“Failing” CNN

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Screenshot via CNN

CNN is a frequent Trump target.

But CNN just enjoyed a 39% jump in it ratings for adults aged 25 to 54, reported Variety.

It’s true that a few years ago, CNN was really struggling. But lately all of cable news networks have enjoyed a resurgence, as Ad Age’s Anthony Crupi noted recently on Twitter.

Performance-

Nielsen says that CNN averaged over 1 million viewers during prime time during the second quarter of this year.

Financials-

CNN’s parent company Time Warner pulled in $7.74 billion during its most recent quarter, a jump of 5.8% versus last year, reported Deadline. But ad sales were down for the company’s cable networks.


‘Low rated’ ‘Morning Joe’

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Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough
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Morning Joe

This week, President Trump has been in attack mode when it comes to the MSNBC show.

Performance-

“Morning Joe” averaged just under 1 million viewers during the second quarter of this year, according to Nielsen. That’s up from roughly 600,000 average viewers a year ago and lands MSNBC just behind Fox News in the morning news race, per Nielsen.

Financials-

MSNBC has been on a recent ratings surge, and SNL Kagan says the network will pull in $267.8 million this year, reports Variety. Parent company NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast Corp., pulled in close to $7.9 billion during the first quarter this year, up 14.7% versus the same period last year, reported the Los Angeles Times.


‘Failing New York Times’

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Getty Images/Mario Tama

President Trump has frequently referred to the New York Times as “failing.”

It’s true that at the height of the recession, the Times had to borrow money from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim. But recently, the company has seen a surge in subscriptions and scoops thanks in part to Trump. But there’s no question newspapers continue to grapple with a declining circulation and print advertising landscape.

Performance-

The Times’ website exceeded 94 million unique users in May, per comScore, a jump of 36% from last year.

Financials-

The Times reported that it now has over 2.2 million digital-only subscribers. However, print ad revenue slipped 18% during its most recent quarter. Overall revenue landed at $399 million in the first quarter, up 5% versus the same period in 2016.


‘Failing pile of garbage’ Buzzfeed

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Getty Images/Kimberly White

At a press conference earlier this year, Trump referred to BuzzFeed as a “failing pile of garbage.”

Performance-

According to comScore, BuzzFeed reached over 80.1 million unique users in May, an increase of 8% from the previous year. BuzzFeed has launched several sub-brands on social media platforms, such as the food-focused Tasty-which boasts of nearly 87 million followers on Facebook. Overall the company says it generates 9 billion views a month across all of its distribution outlets.

Financials

BuzzFeed has received two rounds of investment from NBCUniversal, putting its valuation at $1.5 billion. The company is projecting $350 million in revenue this year, according to Bloomberg.


#AmazonWashingtonPost

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Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon
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Thomson Reuters

This past week, President Trump took a shot at the Washington Post and Amazon.

Actually, Amazon doesn’t technically own the Washington Post, founder Jeff Bezos does.

Performance-

The Washington Post’s web traffic exceeded 80.7 million unique users in May, up 28% versus the same month in 2016, according to comScore. The media company has produced a number of big scoops this past year.

Financials-

The company does not report its revenue publicly, but according to Politico Washington Post went on a hiring spree following the 2016 election.


ABC, CBS, other TV networks

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“The Big Bang Theory” stars, from left, Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, and Kunal Nayyar.
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Michael Yarish/Warner Bros.

Trump has labeled several other big TV networks as ‘failing’ though it’s not always clear what he’s referring to.

Performance-

CBS has one of the top shows on TV in “The Big Bang Theory,” while ABC has a long-running hit in “Scandal.”

Financials-

While primetime TV ratings continue to shrink, ABC just reported that it was able to achieve high single-digit rate increases during the recently completed “upfront” ad sales period.

Meanwhile, CBS said that its first quarter revenue was $3.34 billion down from $3.59 billion during the same quarter last year when the network aired the Super Bowl.


Vanity Fair “way down, big trouble, dead”

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Vanity Fair/Annie Leibovitz

Last year, Vanity Fair posted a scathing review of one of President Trump’s restaurants, and he did not like it.

There’s no doubt that Vanity Fair is facing a tough market for print advertising. Still, the company reported an immediate jump in business following Trump’s tweet.

Performance-

Vanity Fair nabbed 13,000 new subscriptions within 24 hours of Trump’s social media response, according to Poynter. The magazine says it reeled in 107,460 new subscribers from December of last year through June, a jump of 365% from the same time period the year prior.

Financials-

Parent company Conde Nast is private and does not report revenue data publicly.