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Fox News dismissed Tucker Carlson on April 24. Fifteen days later, on May 9, in what I imagine is a location for Yellowstone (it’s not and I’ve never seen the show, but this has gotta be what one of the interiors looks like), the newly ex-Fox News host posted a video to his 7.5 million Twitter followers announcing that he’s “back” and bringing a “new version” of his program to “the last big” platform in the world that allows free speech–Twitter.
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We’re back. pic.twitter.com/sG5t9gr60O
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) May 9, 2023
It’s not an official partnership. At least not yet.
Twitter owner Elon Musk clarified Carlson’s announcement, tweeting, “I also want to be clear that we have not signed a deal of any kind whatsoever. Tucker is subject to the same rules & rewards of all content creators. Rewards means subscriptions and advertising revenue share (still working on software needed for latter), which is a function of how many people subscribe and the advertising views associated with his content. I hope that many others, particularly from the left, also choose to be content creators on this platform.”
On this platform, unlike the one-way street of broadcast, people are able to interact, critique and refute whatever he or anyone may say.
And, of course, anything misleading will get @CommunityNotes.
I also want to be clear that we have not signed a deal of any kind…
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 9, 2023
That last part of Musk’s statement is especially important. He’s certainly hoping Carlson’s show works and that an incredible amount of others follow his lead. He kinda needs it to happen.
Musk reportedly pegged Twitter’s valuation at $20 billion in March. That’s quite a markdown from the $44 billion he paid for it last October. Advertisers aren’t showing up. Annual revenues are projected to be down at least 28%, from $4.14 billion in 2022 to $2.98 billion this year. Twitter Blue isn’t working, either. Musk thought the site could get 159 million paying subscribers by 2028. There are just 700,000 accounts with a blue checkmark now, and not all of them are paying. And even if they were, that’s $269 million a year. He’d need 4X that amount to start making up for the advertising losses.
Twitter has long been a platform–pre-and-post-Musk–that hasn’t been able to monetize the space it occupies. It’s been an incredibly important tool for incredibly influential individuals (many of whom owe their importance to it) to promote their money making initiatives that happen somewhere else. If Twitter can be a destination instead of a megaphone, it can start to see some of those dollars that other platforms usually generate from its popularity and appeal.
Maybe Twitter’s new CEO Linda Yaccarino will be able to woo back advertisers who want to give the bird another shot before flipping their spends permanently to other networks. But regardless of the ads, having popular creators produce their final products on Twitter–and then sharing the revenue that content generates with those creators through subscriptions or other means – is a necessity if Musk wants his platform to realize its full potential.
Twitter’s tried a version of this in the past and it hasn’t really worked. And if it can’t manage now with one of the most popular media personalities in the world, it probably never will.
My co-host Lauren Schnipper and I talk all this and more in the latest installment of Creator Upload. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or whenever you listen. You’re gonna dig it.