Presidential election aftershocks of the three major cable TV news networks show a tighter race for top TV prime-time and daytime viewership.
Does this mean real longer-lasting change is coming -- possibly from upstart news networks? And what adjustment will advertisers make?
For the week of November 16-23, Fox News Channel averaged 3.1 million viewers. MSNBC was in second place at 2.3 million, and CNN at 2.1 million. Total day viewership was even closer -- Fox News Channel at 1.5 million; CNN, 1.42 million; and MSNBC, 1.41 million.
By way of comparison in the third quarter: Fox News Channel hit 3.5 million, MSNBC 2.1 million and CNN 1.5 million.
Overall, the major changes post-election are: Fox News retaining the top position, albeit with a smaller margin. CNN is rising, and MSNBC remains steady.
Many are wondering what's next -- especially with election results completed and some allegiances to networks based on political preferences possibly in flux.
Analysts say new entries -- conservative media-based Newsmax TV and OANN (One America News Network) -- might provide new competition in a post-election world.
Newsmax has indeed seen higher viewership. It pulled in a Nielsen-measured 429,000 average prime-time viewers for the most recent week ending November 23 -- more than 10-times its third-quarter average of 37,000.
This was good for 27th place among all cable TV networks, ahead of Nat Geo, Syfy, MTV, Animal Planet and Comedy Central. Also, its average 346,000 total day viewers (19th place) was ahead of TLC, Discovery Channel and A&E Network. Third-quarter totalday viewing was 30,000.
A good story line of news content can build drama, as well that fancy marketing word “engagement.”
This comes as Newsmax TV has yet to “call” the election. Early on, after the election, virtually all other news organizations, including Fox, cited Joe Biden as the winner, following an analysis of state voting trends, a process that has been around for decades.
Now, key states have certified election results -- Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania -- all giving wins to Biden.
But Newmax keeps a different story line alive -- touting voting-fraud rumors without any evidence to back up the claim, according to the Department of Justice, the FBI and the states election officials.
So would advertisers be more leery about signing on to this network? We don’t have November results as yet. Still, this might suggest where things are, ad-wise:
According to estimates from S&P Global Market Intelligence’s Kagan, Newsmax TV will take in $25 million in advertising revenue this year. By way of comparison, industry leader Fox News Channel will generate an estimated $1.19 billion in advertising this year.
In the past, direct-response advertisers typically have a higher threshold of content that may be controversial, risky, inappropriate, or otherwise, with big brand advertisers completely avoiding such programming. At the same time, we don’t know how new rising TV news networks will sustain viewership.
But in a TV world, where there can be few substantial viewership gains, and other associated metrics, TV marketers can get antsy -- if not politically cloudy.