President Donald J. Trump (R-Florida) and Joe Biden (D-Delaware) are making a gigantic marketing mistake by ignoring podcasting.
Both presidential candidates refuse to go on podcasts. Yet podcasting is one of the fastest-growing media segments.
The biggest standalone podcast platform Spotify (NYSE: SPOT) claimed to have 138 million subscribers and 299 million monthly active users worldwide on 30 June 2020. Meanwhile, America’s top interview podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience averaged 2.66 million listeners a day between 5 January and 8 January 2020, Mediamatters estimates.
Joe Rogan is America’s Favorite Interviewer
If Mediamatters is correct, Rogan’s daily audience is larger than most cable TV news personalities. For instance, on 4 September 2020, Neilsen estimates Fox News’ Neil Cavuto attracted 312,000 listeners and MSNBC’s Nicholle Wallace attracted 234,000 at 4 PM Eastern Standard time.
At 8 p.m. EST Fox News’ Tucker Carlson attracted 953,000 viewers and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes attracted 315,000 viewers. At 9 p.m. Fox’s Sean Hannity attracted 698,000 viewers, CNN’s Chris Cuomo attracted 267,000 viewers, and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow attracted 559,000 viewers.
Hence, Joe Rogan is now America’s favorite interviewer, yet Trump and Biden avoid him. Why? Other advertisers and marketers think Rogan is worth big money.
Why are Trump and Biden Avoiding Podcasts?
Nor is it just Rogan. Trump and Biden are avoiding other popular podcasts including Rising, Rumble with Michael Moore, and Pod Save America to name a few.
Rumble is under a year old, yet Moore claims to have attracted over 15 million listeners. Moore’s listeners are left-leaning people who want Biden to beat Trump, yet Joe cannot bother to talk to Moore?
In contrast, both Trump and Biden will talk to cable news personalities whose audiences are less than half the size of Rogan’s. I have a few theories on major presidential candidates’ avoidance of podcasts.
Reasons Trump and Biden Avoid Podcasts
There are several questionable reasons Biden and Trump avoid podcasts. I think those reasons include:
First, prejudice. Older guys such as Biden think somebody such as Michael Moore, a bored movie director broadcasting from his apartment or Joe Rogan is not real “media.” Remember Rogan and Moore do not wear ties or work from a traditional studios. In fact, Rogan records from his man cave.
Second control. Corporate media’s editors and publishers maintain tight control which sanitizes content. For instance, they will edit a video if Biden or Trump says fuck or niger on the air.
On the other hand, Biden’s f-bomb will go out on a podcast for all to hear. A related problem is that Biden, who reportedly swears like a sailor in private life, could start talking like a real person on the Joe Rogan Experience. To elaborate, Biden could relax with Rogan and start talking like a man rather than a politician.
Note: I think voters will love that, but corporate spin masters will hate it. Political strategists must never allow the possibility that Biden could say something that can offend a grandmother in Des Moines.
Third, fear of the corporate media. I suspect Trump and Biden or their handlers fear the Big Media will attack them if they acknowledge podcasters’ existence. Fox or MSNBC could start airing all the tapes of Trump or Biden using the N word they have locked in the vaults, for example. Or return the calls of that covert operations spook who has Trump’s tax returns.
Fourth, Podcasters do not represent the voters Trump and Biden want. One reason Trump pays so much attention to Fox News and Biden Kowtows to MSNBC is they think those networks reach the voters they want. Those voters are older white suburbanites. The legendary Swing Voters political strategists obsess over.
Who Listens to Podcasts?
Biden, in particular, spent most of his career pandering to the White suburban swing voters of Delaware. I suspect Trump and Biden think their voters are not listening to Podcasts.
From a political strategists’ standpoint, a laser-like focus on cable news makes sense. In 2017 Neilsen estimated the average Fox News viewer was 66 years old, the median MSNBC viewer was 65, and the typical CNN viewer was 61.
In 2018, voter turnout among those over 65 was 66.1% and voter turnout among those aged 45-64 was 59.%, the US Census Bureau estimates. Hence, cable news reaches the audience most prone to vote.
In contrast, the highest rate of podcast listening 28% is among those between 25 and 34 years of age, Music OOMPH estimates. The Census Bureau estimates only 35.6% of those between 18 and 29 vote. Music Oomph estimates only 6% of those over 65 listen to podcasts.
Cable News’ Audience Dies Off
Such thinking could help Biden and Trump now, but doom their parties for the future.
Therefore, the presidential candidates are spending enormous amounts of time and resources pandering to old media with shrinking audiences. In particular, a large percentage of MSNBC, Fox and CNN’s audience that will die before 2024.
Moreover, that audience is getting older Adweek claims the average age of an MSNBC viewer rose from 63 to 65 between 2016 and 2017. Thus, the average MSNBC viewer could now be 67 or 68 years old and closer to death. The average life expectancy in the United States in 2017 was 78.54 years old.
Coronavirus could speed that process up. I estimate Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows 427,643 Americans over 55 died of coronavirus in 2020. Hence, the cable news networks could have lost tens of thousands of viewers to COVID-19.
I have to wonder how candidates will reach voters in 2024 if this process continues?
The New Media Landscape
The data shows that there is a new digital media landscape developing. I think politicians are ignoring that landscape at their peril.
During the 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary candidate Andrew Yang (D-New York) a favorite podcast interview, often out-polled traditional candidates who rely on cable TV. In fact, some pundits credit Joe Rogan with driving Yang’s campaign. Meanwhile candidates such as Pete Buttigieg (D-Indiana) and John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado) who rely on corporate media attracted few primary votes.
In addition, US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont); another candidate, who goes on podcasts, came in second. Sanders easily beat several candidates who rely on traditional media. However, Joe Biden won the primary by relying on traditional media.
I think Biden’s success could be the last gasp of the old media’s power. If present trends continue, I predict a more sophisticated version of Sanders (Yang?) could leverage podcasts and social media to win in 2024.
Hence, the process that Donald J. Trump (R-Florida) began in 2016 by leveraging social media, digital advertising, and cable news to “hack” the presidential election process could reach its logical conclusion in 2024. However, I suspect most Trump voters will hate the hacker candidate who wins in 2024.
What Happens after Cable News Dies?
A true nightmare for the Democratic or Republican establishments will be corporate management shutting down CNN, Fox News or MSNBC.
What happens if a future Comcast (NYSE: CMCSA) CEO decides Rachel Maddow’s salary is a waste of money? Or if Rupert P. Murdoch’s kids pull the plug on Fox News after that mogul dies? How will politicians reach voters then?
America’s politicians and all others who depend on marketing need to understand next generation digital media such as podcasts. I predict those who ignore the new media and podcasts will become irrelevant. Trump and Biden’s mistake will not hurt those politicians but it could doom their successors.
Given that reality, perhaps running mates U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) and Vice President Mike Pence (R-Indiana) need to go on Joe Rogan and other podcasters now. If those two want careers in 2024. Podcasts could be the future of political media.
Originally published at https://marketmadhouse.com on September 8, 2020.