Traditional pay TV network carriage -- cable, satellite, telco and virtual -- is still a valued thing, even as the industry moves on. So are news stories -- the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Newsmax, the conservative cable TV news channel, is complaining that DirecTV is throwing off the network because of its conservative point of view. DirecTV says it doesn’t want to start paying a carriage fee for the TV news network. Previously it had been free.
Newsmax complains that low-rated “liberal” networks are carried on DirecTV. But it didn't name what those networks were or what kinds of networks they were. News content? Entertainment? Reality TV?
And yet, DirecTV does carry the Fox News Channel -- a conservative TV news channel -- and pays that channel a carriage fee.
TV and media viewers can still get Newsmax's new content -- on the Newsmax.com website and on YouTube, as well as multiple streaming platforms like Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and Google Play.
So what's the rub? It's just business, no?
Here is a key point, made by Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy in a letter sent to Congressman Wesley Hunt of Texas on Tuesday: “Yet they continue to carry and pay [for] many liberal channels with a fraction of Newsmax's audience share [emphasis added].”
Audience share? Is this Newsmax audience share -- relative to itself? Is it the share of all TV news channels or all cable TV consumers in the U.S.?
In terms of viewership, we know this:
For the latest week, ending January 16, Newsmax averaged 98,000 viewers -- tied with Fox Sports 1 and good for 59th place (out of over 120 channels), and 113,000 viewers in prime time, in 61st place.
Looking at news-specific content: In total day viewing it tied The Weather Channel and topped Accuweather (6,000) in viewing; in prime-time viewing it topped NewsNation (87,000); Vice (60,000) and Fox Business Channel (58,000). Are those all “liberal” TV channels? More importantly, are they all getting carriage fees from DirecTV?
But, of course, cable TV carriage goes beyond viewing.
If we are to measure the success and worth of a TV network, from a financial point of view, while actual viewership is important, so is its direction -- up, down, whatever.
Another key measure for TV distributors is if there is an advertising share component in the deals with networks. If that TV commercial time can be sold for a decent price, that's good. If not, well...
The underlying message from Newsmax here seems to be that DirecTV may be practicing some kind monopolist, anticompetitive behavior.
The trouble is that DirecTV is not nearly as strong a pay TV provider as it was years ago. It has lost millions of subscribers over the past few years due to systemic cord-cutting. And its financial health probably is not all that strong.
Plenty of alternative TV and media distributors for content are burgeoning -- making it harder for DirecTV to retain subscribers.
Audience-wise, we know that TV news content is different -- skewing to a much older crowd that might be hesitant to go searching for new technology for that content.
If Newsmax's “content” is that valuable and it has data to prove that -- great. But if it’s questionable stuff, and turns away viewers -- and advertisers -- that is another matter.
A fuller account of a news story, as any news organization knows, typically can contain the good, the bad, and the iffy.
Should we be surprised that Newsmax and CEO Christopher Ruddy, Trump pal, misleads and distorts his network's viability? Apparently consumers may be tiring of the constant misinformation that Newsmax offers. Now let's hope the FOX audiences start to wake up too.
They have the largest share of the angry, white, male conspiratorial wingnut audience.
Newsmax is low-budget the few times I flipped to it on Spectrum a week later I didn't have access to it which was fine since it is low-budget and cheap as I said before. Fox News is number 1 in cable news for 20+ years and counting the same can be said about MSNBC will those audiences wake up I know the answer is no. You also know the answer, Kevin. DirecTV was just business and had nothing to do with the consumers. Misinformation is in the eye of the beholder it's all over online with misinformation and disinformation.
It was just business that DirecTV did and why they couldn't reach an agreement on a new deal DirecTV added The First another conservative network that I never heard of until a deal was made after Newsmax went dark. A few other pay TV dropped Newsmax which is low-budget and cheap. It isn't censorship and the government should stay out of these types of matters on both sides I didn't like the couple of Dems writing to pay TV companies telling them to drop Fox News and supporting censorship in 2021.