Reports of the success of the highly conservative website Newsmax and its television arm have been part of media news since the election. Some portion of this has come from Newsmax itself. Recent research shows that its online growth rates are extraordinary. At the same time, that of its much larger rival, Fox News, has taken a very sharp dive.
Based on data from web traffic measurement service Similar Web, total visits to Newsmax.com were 15.4 million in October. This rose to 63 million in November and held near that level at 61.8 million in December. December’s average duration per visit was 2 minutes and 23 seconds. Visitors viewed 2.17 pages.
Fox News had 430 million total visits in October. That rose to 606.5 million in November, then collapsed to 332.5 million in December, a 45% drop. Fox News time average duration per visit 7 minutes and 13 seconds. Visitors viewed 2.92 pages.
In October, Newsmax had 3% of the number of visits to Fox News. In December, that number was 19%.
Fox News has several advantages, even with the drop in audience. Parent Fox Corporation, controlled by the family of Rupert Murdoch, had revenue of $2.7 billion in the most recent quarter. Net income was $1.1 billion. Newsmax is private and does not release financial statements, but they are certainly a small percentage of Fox’s.
The future of Newsmax relies on several issues. The first is whether the rise of right-wing activity, brought on in very large part by the defeat of Donald Trump and subsequent, baseless claims about voter fraud, continues to be a major part of the American dialogue regarding the nation’s future. The other is access to capital. One of the two rumors about the parent company’s financials is that a group of wealthy conservatives will take over part or all of Newsmax and pour money into programming and promotion. The other is that Trump will use it as his preferred media platform once he leaves office. This, presumably, would draw a much larger audience than Newsmax has now.
For the time being, Fox has one other substantial advantage. Some of its hosts have the highest ratings in cable news television. Unless these erode, that gives Fox a tremendous moat. Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity have by far the most-watched shows in the cable news segment of television.
Online audience figures across the first few months of the year will show whether the Newsmax.com traffic can hold at current levels, or even rise. Fox’s challenge is to reverse a very sharp erosion.