10 Things You Need to Know About Newsmax, the Surging Conservative News Network

Ratings have increased tenfold since the election, and the company has set its sights on Fox News

chris ruddy
Newsmax Media was founded as a conservative news-focused website in 1998 by Chris Ruddy, who is now its CEO. Newsmax Media
Headshot of A.J. Katz

Since the presidential election, the major cable news networks have seen their robust audiences begin to decline, as is the case every four years. However, one news network is bucking that trend in 2020: a smaller channel named Newsmax.

What is Newsmax? It is a right-leaning news network that has benefited greatly from a segment of the conservative base that has been angry at Fox News Channel for that network’s accurate decision to call the 2020 presidential election earlier this month in favor of the Democratic candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, alongside every other major media outlet.

Newsmax might not have been on your radar until its recent ratings uptick, so here are 10 things you need to know about the surging conservative news network.

1. It’s been around for 22 years.

Newsmax Media has actually been in existence for more than two decades. It was founded as a conservative news-focused website in 1998 by a media executive named Chris Ruddy. “We were the Fox News of the online world,” Ruddy, Newsmax’s CEO, told Adweek.

In the ensuing years, the company moved more deeply into video, launching an OTT channel called Newsmax TV in 2014. That platform morphed into a cable news network later that year, as Ruddy looked to capitalize on an opportunity in the space.

“Cable news is a $6 billion market, with Fox News doing about $3 billion in business, and the center-left being divided between CNN, MSNBC and others,” Ruddy said. “Back then, there was no real competitor to Fox News, and I thought that there needed to be more diversity of opinion on the right, which led me to start Newsmax.”

Today, Newsmax says it is in 70 million households. The company is headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla., with offices in New York, Los Angeles and Washington.

2. It’s more ‘future’-focused than its rivals.

As opposed to its competitors, “Newsmax tends to be more focused on hard news,” Ruddy said. “If you go to Fox News, a lot of its news is sort of ‘off-political news.’”

Ruddy then paid a compliment to a network that is a polar opposite, ideologically: “I think what MSNBC did really great, and why it surged past CNN was when they used to call themselves ‘The Place for Politics.’ I think news viewers in this environment really like consuming politics. I think lifestyle issues are not as important.”

Newsmax also takes a different approach to talent, Ruddy said, as it hopes to attract a younger audience.

“We just hired a young guy from Fox News [Rob Schmitt] who used to do their very early show, and he’s in his 30s and a very bright guy,” Ruddy said. “He’s thinking about the future of the United States, and that’s what we want our hosts to be doing. We want to be about the future.”

3. Ratings have increased nearly tenfold since Q3.

Newsmax’s recent ratings spike has come as President Donald Trump and some of his die-hard supporters have expressed anger at Fox News’ election night call that Biden had won Arizona—long before any other TV news outlet called the state for Biden.

To highlight how extreme the ratings growth has been: Newsmax averaged 37,000 total prime-time viewers and 30,000 total day viewers in Q3, according to live-plus-same-day data from Nielsen. But in October, the network averaged 96,000 prime-time viewers—almost triple its Q3 average—and 57,000 total day viewers.

@ajkatztv aj.katz@adweek.com A.J. Katz is the senior editor of Adweek's TVNewser.