Just a day after beating Fox News in rankings for the first time ever, Newsmax announced plans to expand its services in the United States and Britain, the CEO Chris Ruddy told Reuters.
The conservative network, supported by President Donald Trump, plans to hire more staff in the United States and London, a debut new primetime host and add more weekend programming to fight with Rupert Murdoch’s longtime ratings king Fox News.
Aided by shout-outs from President Trump on Twitter, Newsmax’s weekly primetime viewership has jumped 68% since the U.S. presidential election.
Early evening host Greg Kelly on Monday averaged 229,000 viewers ages 25 to 54, the group most coveted by cable news advertisers, for the first time beating Fox’s Martha MacCallum, who brought in 203,000 viewers in that age range at the same hour.
MacCallum, however, won in overall viewers, and reclaimed her lead in both categories on Tuesday, suggesting the Newsmax gains may be fragile. Some key audience metrics have slipped from Newsmax’s post-election peaks. Primetime viewership for the week that ended Dec. 4 was down 21% from two weeks earlier, averaging 391,000 viewers, while its total day audience fell 19%.
Fox News, which also has declined from election-week highs, still averaged 2.9 million primetime viewers that week, a sign of its strength after almost 19 years as the most-watched cable news channel.
The network had its highest-rated November in history, drawing 3.9 million primetime viewers, beating all cable networks, not just cable news. Primetime host Tucker Carlson averaged 5 million viewers for a second straight month, a record for cable television.
Newsmax’s CEO Ruddy noted that despite some dips the network is hovering high above pre-election levels.
He sees the 40 million viewers not on cable as the next battleground for growth. In addition to cable news, the network streams for free on platforms including YouTube and a Newsmax app, which Ruddy said roughly doubles the nighttime audience.
“People are really tired of Fox News,” Ruddy said in a recent interview. “There is a perception that they really tried to torpedo the president.”
Available in roughly 70 million cable TV homes, Newsmax is on a “hiring splurge,” Ruddy said. The network has added 25 employees since the election to bring its total workforce to 275. It plans to hire 30 more over the next three months, including one in London and another in Los Angeles.
Newsmax, which is based in Florida, also plans to hire staff for a bureau in the state, home to both Trump and his Mar-a-Lago resort. Most of Newsmax’s current 165 television staff are based in New York. Fox News has hundreds of journalists based in 10 U.S. bureaus and three international bureaus.
This month, Newsmax will launch a 10 p.m. ET (0300 GMT) program hosted by Rob Schmitt, a former early morning Fox News host.