Newsmax TV has been taking a victory lap since the election after some stronger-than-usual ratings these past couple weeks, and understandably so.
According to CNN’s Brian Stelter, the channel averaged 347,000 viewers last Monday (Nov. 9). On Tuesday, 437,000 viewers. Evening shows like the 6 p.m. Spicer & Co (hosted by the former White House press secretary) and the 7 p.m. Greg Kelly Reports (hosted by the former Fox 5 NY host) are delivering roughly 700,000 and 800,000 viewers.
Granted that’s way less than what Fox News’ Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum typically average in those respective hours, but still far more than the 100,000 the two Newsmax shows traditionally draw.
The network recently claimed that “Fox News viewers appear to be deserting the network in droves.” While it’s true that many Fox News shows were down last week, including Baier’s and MacCallum’s, saying FNC viewers are “deserting the network in droves” seems a bit much. Not only is Fox News the most-watched network on cable in 2020, but Newsmax has yet to even beat FBN for a month (although that may change this month).
Anyways, why the sudden audience growth for Newsmax? One reason is that Trump has been urging his followers to leave Fox News and start watching networks like Newsmax and OANN after Fox News called the presidential election for Joe Biden last Saturday, while Newsmax is still claiming Biden is not the president-elect; music to Trump and his supporters’ ears.
Newsmax has some momentum right now, and the Wall Street Journal reported late last week that Trump allies were targeting a buyout of Newsmax to better compete with Fox News, a dominant force in cable news over the past 24 years.
However, Newsmax Media CEO Chris Ruddy told Variety that the company is not actively looking to sell itself.
“Newsmax would never become ‘Trump TV,'” Ruddy told Variety. “We have always seen ourselves as an independent news agency, and we want to continue with that mission. But we are open – [Trump] is going to be a political and media force after he leaves the White House, and we would be open to talking to him about a weekly show.”
“We are not actively selling” the company at this time, he added, noting some interest from “investors, investment banks and strategic players” in the recent past.
“Our main focus is continuing: We would like to overtake Fox News in the next 12 months, and I think it’s do-able,” Ruddy claimed.
Shooting spitballs at Fox News isn’t a new thing for Newsmax. Back in 2017, after FNC tapped Laura Ingraham for its 10 p.m. hour, Ruddy remarked to Politico: “Newsmax is very supportive of the president, but we also will publish things that are critical of him time to time. Fox seems to have decided to become very closely aligned, which seems unnatural, and it doesn’t seem consistent. It’s just bizarre and I think they lose their credibility as a news organization.”
Then there was this segment, where Newsmax co-anchors openly criticize the network on-air:
How thirsty is Newsmax to poach Fox News’ audience?
Here’s a segment in which they slam Leland Vittert for grilling a Trump spox before focusing on a MAGA marcher wearing an anti-Fox/pro-Newsmax t-shirt.
“We think a lot of people might want to order something similar!” pic.twitter.com/uXSwPHRk1M
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) November 16, 2020
At the end of the day, Fox News is projected to take in nearly $1.36 billion in ad revenue in 2020, as well as $1.62 billion in affiliate fees, according to market research group Kagan. Newsmax relies more heavily on a smaller stream of ad revenue.
It remains to be seen whether Newsmax’s ratings growth is temporary, or if this continues into 2021.