For the first time, Newsmax TV scored a ratings victory over Fox News. On Monday night, Greg Kelly Reports on NewsmaxTV out-rated The Story with Martha MacCallum on Fox in the key 25-54 demographic prized by advertisers.
The win underscores the enormous power that Donald Trump wields on the right. Trump has tweeted approvingly of NewsmaxTV’s coverage of his post-election legal efforts while the network also refuses to call Joe Biden “president-elect.”
Fox enraged Trump and his campaign when the network projected Biden the winner in Arizona late on election evening. Since then, Fox has apparently given in to reality and begun referring to Biden as the next president, further alienating the president and many of his supporters. NewsmaxTV gives over most of its news coverage to Trump’s legal efforts to overturn the election.
Newsmax — and Kelly in particular — offered a safe space in which Biden was not called president-elect and Trump was not yet defeated.
Through the post-election weeks in November, as Trump’s legal team suffered dozens of losses in court in its attempt to overturn the results, Kelly insisted that he believed Trump would still prevail.
His 7 p.m. program consists of long, pro-Trump, anti-media commentaries of the type typically found later in the evening on Fox. And a certain subset of viewers are rewarding him for it. Kelly’s show is usually Newsmax’s highest-rated show of the day.
Fox News is still four times higher-rated than NewsmaxTV overall, so the upstarts have a ways to go yet before overtaking them. But Fox is actually down in ratings since the election while NewsmaxTV has gone through the roof.
Take Kelly’s hour: Before the election, his show barely had a heartbeat. The 7 p.m. hour had barely 10,000 viewers in the 25-54 demo and 100,000 viewers overall, according to Nielsen data.
Now the hour has nearly a million viewers on a good night, and Monday was good: 949,000 viewers.
With a few tweets, Trump has elevated a minor TV network to be a player in the news business.
.@FoxNews daytime is virtually unwatchable, especially during the weekends. Watch @OANN, @newsmax, or almost anything else. You won’t have to suffer through endless interviews with Democrats, and even worse!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 28, 2020
Fox has decided to play hardball, warning guests that if they appeared on NewsmaxTV, they wouldn’t be invited back. And Fox has allowed CNN to sneak up on the network in key time periods.
Between Nov. 4 and Sunday, CNN has averaged 1.73 million viewers, more than double a year ago, the Nielsen company said. Fox News Channel had 1.56 million and MSNBC had 1.53 million.
It’s the first time since December 2001, the newsy period after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, that CNN has beaten Fox News in this measurement for as long as a month, Nielsen said.
I think this rating surge increases the chance that Trump will take a stake in NewsmaxTV while getting his own show or perhaps his own time slot. It would be a perfect medium to use as a platform to vault into the 2024 race. Appearing on a popular TV network every day would cement his position as the unquestioned leader of the Republican Party and a serious force to be reckoned with by Biden and the Democrats next election.
Fox will survive but one wonders at what direction they will go. One thing is for sure: they’ve lost their edge and will have a hard time getting it back.