The founder of leading conservative news website Newsmax is planning to launch a new 24-hour cable news network in June, designed to rival Fox News Channel.
Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy said in a Bloomberg Businessweek profile that plans are in place to launch NewsmaxTV — which Ruddy describes as a “kindler, gentler Fox” — in more than 50 million homes by June via satellite and cable providers.
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“Our goal is to be a little more boomer-oriented, more information-based rather than being vituperative and polarizing,” Ruddy told Bloomberg, saying that many viewers feel Fox has become too right-wing.
Ruddy — who is not a Republican — said his plans to launch the network are based on a glaring business opportunity within the cable news landscape. Fox News chairman Roger Ailes launched the network 18 years ago, recognizing there was a lack of conservative voices in news media, and since then, Fox has had a complete monopoly on that audience.
In fact, the network has been the No. 1 cable news channel by a wide margin for 12 consecutive years.
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“How do you have something so successful in cable that nobody else wants to imitate or cut into their market share?” Ruddy said. “It defies reason. “If we take 10 to 15 percent of the Fox audience, and they are making $1 billion a year, then we are going to be hugely profitable,” he added.
The cable network will be an expansion of Newsmax’s online broadcast, which is currently available for three live hours per day. NewsmaxTV will start with nine live hours and be available on Dish Network, DirecTV, and cable companies — but Ruddy said the company will not charge providers to carry its programming, at least at the outset.
UPDATE 3/7/14: A spokesperson with DirecTV told TheWrap that, while some talks have happened, there is no deal in place to carry NewsmaxTV. “The statements Newsmax have made in the media are quite perplexing as we do not have a distribution deal in place,” the spokesperson said.
“They don’t want to pay new networks,” Ruddy said. “[T]hey are actually trying to get rid of the networks they have. So what we are going to do is say, ‘We are going to give you the service free or we will pay you to take us.'”
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Ruddy can afford to make that offer because Newsmax has been very profitable since its inception in 1998. The company saw $103 million in revenue in 2013, up from $85 million the prior year, according to Bloomberg.
Half of that revenue comes from newsletter subscriptions and vitamin supplements — which the company has been selling to its 55-year-old average aged audience for years.