A Look at How Stephen Colbert Raised $1 Million

Posted on February 2, 2012


After a little bit of digging I found out that “The Colbert Report” averages 1.5 million total viewers per episode and the Web site ColbertNation.com averages 1.2 million unique monthly visitors.

That number makes the fact that host Steven Colbert’s Super PAC, known as Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, has raised over $1 million dollars in contributions pretty impressive.

If my math skills haven’t failed me completely that’s about .75 cents per viewer, a pretty damn good ratio. Certainly a lot stronger batting average than that most radio station charity fund raisers and this money doesn’t even benefit a specific cause. In fact, people who donated have no idea what their money will be spent on.

While that kind of audience loyalty isn’t easy to come by Colbert’s formula for creating it isn’t all that magical. Let’s breakdown what he’s really done:

  1. He selected a timely, topical story that fits with the interest of audience to focus on. That’s just good show prep. You can do that.
  2. On the air he explained the facts of the situation to his audience. Most airtalent know how to do that.
  3. He enlisted an expert, Campaign Legal Center founder and president Trevor Potter, to help explain the issue in more depth. Most hosts won’t make the effort to do this.
  4. He applied a little creativity to the situation and came up with a way to actively insert himself into the story creating additional buzz and attention for his show. Most hosts are way too lazy to do this.

It’s not brain surgery or TV magic, Colbert’s success is just good old-fashioned creativity and effort both of which are within your grasp.