Former Fox News talk show host Tucker Carlson reached an audience that any cable news network executive would kill for – as his debut 10-minute video captioned “Ep.1” of the brand new “Tucker on Twitter” was seen more than 35 million times by Wednesday morning.
Carlson’s new “show,” which debuted on the social media platform on Tuesday, was essentially an opinion-based monologue without any guests, and without any evidence to back up his many claims.
“As of today, we’ve come to Twitter,” Carlson said in the video. “We’re told there are no gatekeepers here. If that turns out to be false, we’ll leave.”
Short But Not Focused
The most notable aspect of the new show wasn’t actually what Carlson had to say, but rather that he attempted to hit several topics in just over 10 minutes. Clearly, Carlson may be used to a full-length program where he was able to delve into multiple subjects.
“Going forward, for this to be successful it is going to have to be more segment focused,” said Jason Mollica, professorial lecturer and program director at American University’s School of Communication.
“Trying to encapsulate a 40-minute show into just 10 minutes isn’t going to work, so Carlson may need to speak to one topic,” Mollica added. “To repeat the style of his cable news show on Twitter is impossible.”
This really isn’t about Tucker Carlson, as it is about Twitter—which began as a microblog where individuals could share quick thoughts with friends and colleagues before it became a broadcast tool to reach the masses. In both cases, however, users have largely kept things short.
Ten minutes could be the maximum length for any video program on the service.
“Unless it has been a live event, Twitter just has proven to be ill-suited to such content,” explained Mollica. “Hosting 10-minute-long videos doesn’t seem be the purpose of the service. That is what YouTube is for with video, or you can listen to a podcast. Twitter has always been about sharing quick thoughts, updates, and short videos.”
Will The Audience Tune In Again
There is little denying that Carlson’s first episode reached a massive audience, but there is also no denying that a lot of people tuned in out of curiosity. Carlson may still have to fight hard to get those viewers to come back for “Ep.2” and beyond.
“The large majority of Twitter users don’t care about Carlson,” suggested Mollica.
“Carlson’s nightly audience on Fox was just over three million viewers. He’s got almost eight million followers on Twitter,” added social media analyst Greg Sterling, co-founder of Near Media. “It’s possible that his ‘show’ on Twitter could reach comparable audiences, but unlikely. The more interesting idea is whether Elon Musk will try to encourage more such programming as part of an evolution of content on Twitter.”
There is certainly no shortage of high-profile individuals that already use the platform as their soapbox, but Twitter is unlikely to become a YouTube rival.
“It would have to be someone who could draw in an audience,” said Mollica. “There also needs to be something interesting to hook in viewers, and that is more than offering your opinion on a few notable news items that day.”
Twitter is also unlikely to see much benefit from this sort of content. There are simply too many alternate platforms competing for the same eyeballs.
“Twitter is not streaming and it’s still a pretty toxic environment for advertisers,” explained Sterling. “So I doubt that we’ll see that many others follow Carlson because there isn’t a ton of money to be made on Twitter today. YouTube is a much more viable platform in that regard.”
Avoiding The Abyss
Carlson may have been a huge cable news star—but whether he can retain his audience via 10-minute videos has yet to be seen. However, as Mollica noted, Carlson needed this more than Twitter needed Carlson.
“He needs an audience or else he’ll just do guest spots on second-tier news channels,” Mollica suggested. “This sort of helps Carlson fill the void.”