By Chris Stigall

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — During the 2015/2016 primary cycle, it is estimated by media watchers Donald Trump acquired free media coverage to the tune of $2 billion dollars. Now that Mr. Trump has secured the Republican nomination, you can take that figure and multiply it by a lot through November’s general election.

In case you’re not familiar with the free media coverage concept, it’s simply time a candidate spends on TV for which they’re not paying. Turn on almost any cable news show or morning news show or Sunday news talk show – there he is. Donald Trump on the phone. Donald Trump from Trump Tower. “Donald Trump’s exclusive, sit-down, one-on-one with (name your news personality).”

READ MORE: Philadelphia Weather: Fast Storm System To Bring Snow To Parts Of Delaware Valley Sunday Evening

Trump has cultivated a decades long friendship with so many figures in media and entertainment. He makes himself available to them any time they ask. Sure, it gives the media ratings. But that’s not Trump’s calculation. Ever media and marketing savvy, Trump knows every minute spent on television is money he’s not spending to reach millions.

By contrast for example, many White House correspondents became upset at their lack of access to President Obama as he golfed with Tiger Woods. The administration promising to be “the most transparent in history” has consistently proven to be anything but over eight years.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign famously roped members of the media like cattle and forced them to chase her like paparazzi as she campaigned in Iowa. Her interviews are rare, calculated, highly managed, predictable, and boring.

READ MORE: 21-Year-Old Critically Injured In West Philadelphia Shooting: Police

While most media share the politics of Obama and Clinton, the only thing about which they care more is access and ratings. I once asked a long time, veteran newsman and television figure how he votes. He replied, “I vote my wallet.” Assuming he meant taxes, I pressed for insights into his politics. He clarified. “No, I vote my wallet – meaning whoever gives me access. I want the interviews. It helps my job.”

CNN and Fox News have enjoyed ratings through the roof this primary cycle – and it’s not because John Kasich hung around so long. No, it’s all Trump – all the time. And it’s working.

One of the biggest stories of the primary wasn’t about the candidates but about the “feud” between Fox News’ Megyn Kelly and Donald Trump. Now, in a build up as big as “Who shot J.R.” – Fox News has begun teasing their big reunion as Megyn sits down with Trump for the first time!

Drama! Showbiz! Ratings! That’s today’s news. Sure, it’s cynical. But for a presidential candidate named Donald Trump, he understands it, harnesses it, delivers ratings, and plays media like a Stradivarius. Billions of free media may be Trump’s ticket to the White House. In turn, that’s four years of a highly accessible, guaranteed ratings-generating presidency for the media

MORE NEWS: Fire Now Under Control At Center City High-Rise

President Trump is just too profitable for media to pass up.