Fox sources said the producers were told to avoid some regular guests if they continued to appear on Newsmax after being encouraged to stop. The purpose of management: to remind guests to be the boss in the right-wing media world.
And Fox News remains the boss, Newsmax’s audience five times that time of day. A Fox spokesman said there was no policy on guest bookings.
But it’s clear that Fox feels like the right is putting more pressure than ever before. Fox presenters and producers are at the forefront of the qualification competition, many CNN Business staff have said. Staff also said that the dynamics of the competition will affect some of Fox’s programming choices.
Newsmax TV ratings rebounded
Until election day, Newsmax barely received a pulse from Nielsen TV rating reports, which revealed that the channel watched an average of only 34,000 viewers at any given time in August and September. The slight rise in October became the bottom of the audience after November 3rd. One obvious reason was Fox’s prediction that President Trump would lose the state of Arizona and drastically narrow the path to re-election. Newsmax criticized Fox and gave viewers false hope about Trump’s chances.
This tactic continued when Fox and all other major networks announced the election of President-elect Biden on November 7th. Newsmax insisted that the competition was not over yet and that large networks act irresponsibly, when in fact Newsmax was the irrational player. A section of Fox’s audience flocked to Newsmax to show that allegations of voter fraud were buzzing and disturbing the rest of the media as well.
Greg Kelly, Newsmax’s 19-hour presenter, was the biggest beneficiary: his show counted an average of 80,000 viewers before election day, and 800,000 on the first weekday after Biden was elected president.
Fox sources teased Newsmax as “far-right” and “extreme” and highlighted Kelly as a separate critique. But there has been a noticeable change in the way Newsmax is talked about.
Earlier this year, while I was working on a book about Fox News and Trump, I was talking to the same co-workers, and when I brought up Newsmax and another wannabe rival, One America News, they usually made fun of or joked. The canals were sown like fleas on the elephant’s back.
But Fox staff are no longer joking. Much attention is paid to the daily ranking charts that show Newsmax’s performance alongside Fox News, Fox Business and other channels.
Overall, CNN made the biggest profit in the post-election period; CNN has been beating Fox News for nearly three weeks in key 25-54-year-old demographics. But Fox also lost a stake in Newsmax, especially in the early evening, according to a thorough reading of Nielsen’s data.
On Monday night, for example, Kelly had an average of 188,000 viewers between the ages of 25 and 54, while Fox’s “The Story” averaged 288,000 viewers in that demographic category at that time.
Before the election, Kelly gathered about 30,000 spectators at the show, while Fox got more than 500,000 viewers at the show.
The erosion of Fox’s audience is due in part to predictable post-election fatigue; Fox also fell after Mitt Romney lost to Barack Obama in 2012.
If history is any guide, the audience will gradually “come home,” according to one of Fox’s executives, who pointed out that the network remains dominant among conservative viewers. On Monday, Fox had 1.4 million viewers, prime time more than 2 million viewers at any time of the day, while Newsmax had 300,000 viewers at any time of the day.
Competition in the right media landscape
No one knows exactly what to expect in this new competitive environment. In recent days, Newsmax has arrived from its highest level since the election. Kelly had an average of 600,000 viewers on Tuesday, up from 1.1 million last Thursday.
And Newsmax is one of Fox’s many challengers. One of America’s News is not rated by Nielsen, which is usually a sign that a channel is very small, but channel owners say their internal metrics are showing high election results. Google’s search for both Newsmax and One America News jumped after election day.
OANN president Charles Herring said on Friday that “a huge wave of former Fox News viewers have left Fox and found a home in OAN.” He said some former Fox viewers “believe new pro left-wing voices have infiltrated the network.”
The channels on the right also include two streaming services: BlazeTV, Glenn Beck and Mark Levin, as well as The First TV, alongside Bill O’Reilly. One of the lines of most of Fox’s rivals: They use Fox’s previous talents.
Trump, despite being closely associated with Fox during his tenure in office, took advantage of the competition and promoted Newsmax on his Twitter feed.
On Tuesday night, Trump tweeted the results of an unscientific poll: “Should President Trump let Biden?” Which was featured several times on Newsmax TV.
The results were meaningless, except to show that Newsmax continues to supply Trump fans who don’t want the election to end.
Some of Fox’s talk shows have also been flooded with election denials, but news broadcasts at other times of the day contradict them. And that causes tension internally, some Fox sources said. Last Sunday, pro-Trump hosts Maria Bartiromo voiced loud criticism of an election technology company called Dominion Voting Systems. He then told viewers to tune in later in the day when Dominion spokesman Eric Shawn, the anchor of Fox News, would ask. He even read a question he thought Shawn should ask.
Inside Fox, staff were confused by the embarrassing contrast between Bartiromo’s conspiracy programming and Shawn’s straightforward interview that refuted conspiracy theories.
Many Fox viewers prefer conspiracy theories – Bartiromo’s show had more than 1.9 million viewers, while Shawn’s newscast was barely an average of one million.
“Our audience has been absolutely radicalized,” said one long-time Fox employee.
Several staff members pointed to programming adjustments, such as the broadcast of Mark Levin’s right-wing talk show on Saturday and Sunday night, which were designed to be Fox-based. Levin’s show was only broadcast on Sunday. Last Saturday, however, Fox aired a six-day episode of the show, full of outdated claims about Trump’s legal challenges.
Staff said the frequent re-screening of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” clips during the day was another noticeable attempt to reassure viewers.
CNN employee Oliver Darcy contributed to the report.