Donald Trump added fuel to the fire of speculation about his post-election TV network ambition by offering live news-style analysis of Wednesday’s presidential debate through Facebook Live.
The Trump campaign appeared to be simulcasting the feed of Right Side Broadcasting, a YouTube effort launched by Trump supporter Joe Seales. The channel has offered live coverage of Trump’s campaign events since July 2015.
But after the debate, Trump advisors Boris Epshteyn and Cliff Sims served as co-anchors for a series of interviews in the spin room at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas where the third and final debate between Republican nominee Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton was held. Epshteyn has been a frequent Trump surrogate presence on cable news.
The presentation on Facebook Live included Chyron graphics and a news crawl declaring that Trump had scored a “decisive victory” in the debate moderated by Fox News’ Chris Wallace.
The guests included Trump’s adult sons Donald Jr. and Eric, as well as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former “Apprentice” contestant Omarosa Manigault. After a few minutes of post-debate analysis with Donald Jr., Epshteyn threw to a live commentary segment from Tomi Lahren, who hosts a political commentary show on TheBlaze, Glenn Beck’s digital media venture that has been cited as a potential model for a possible Trump TV launch.
The look of the broadcast was crude at times and audio glitches were frequent. But Epshteyn’s repeated reference to the “inaugural” Facebook Live presentation piqued the interest of media biz watchers. As Lahren observed: “We’re quite tired of the mainstream media dictating the debate coverage. The media is Hillary’s largest SuperPac.”
Epshteyn made references to “hundreds of thousands of viewers” watching on Facebook Live but the live audience immediately after the debate hovered around 60,000 to 63,000, with more than 100,000 watching at the beginning of the debate. (UPDATE: In a sign of Facebook’s pass-around distribution muscle, by early Thursday morning the roughly two-hour video had racked up more than 8 million views.)
Right Side Broadcasting has a little more than 208,400 subscribers via YouTube.
The Facebook Live telecast was broken up by Trump campaign spots. It also included on-air pleas for contributions to the Trump campaign. Epshteyn and Sims signed off at about 12:15 a.m. ET