As the presidential race winds down, speculation has grown about Donald Trump’s interest in leveraging the value of his political base with the launch of a digital or linear TV network.
The Financial Times reported Monday that Trump’s son-in-law, New York Observer publisher Jared Kushner, had recently reached out to investment banker Aryeh Bourkoff of the media-centric advisory firm LionTree LLC about the possibility of such a venture. A source close to the situation stressed that there was no activity on the Trump front for LionTree.
The discussion between Kushner and Bourkoff was brief and took place more than a month ago. The two men are friendly and have been involved in philanthropic and charitable endeavors together. LionTree, the source stressed, has no interest in being involved in a venture that has been dubbed “Trump TV” in speculative media reports over the past few months. LionTree has advised Kushner’s various business interests in the past but is not at present working for Kushner on any projects.
But the fact that Kushner made the inquiry at all is telling. It’s an indication that the Trump camp is looking out past Electon Day on Nov. 8 to media options to continue to reach the base of supporters amassed up during his convention-busting presidential campaign that began in June 2015.
A digital service seems the most likely route for a Trump-branded media outlet. TV industry insiders are skeptical that Trump would have much traction with the launch of a linear channel, given the upheaval in the MVPD marketplace at present.
A digital channel would have much lower startup costs. Given the Trump campaign’s ties to officials connected to the conservative Breitbart News Network website, some have wondered if Breitbart could become the spine of a Trump media venture.
LionTree declined to comment. A rep for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Trump in the past has denied any interest in launching a TV channel.