Newsmax Head of Sales: We Appeal to the Heartland

Tuesday, 10 Jun 2014 11:48 PM

By Jason Devaney

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With Newsmax TV slated to be in  35 million homes thanks to distribution deals with DISH Network  and DIRECTV,  the company's new vice president of sales discussed the future of the network.

Kevin Byrnes, who came to Newsmax from Golf Channel and NBC Sports, sat down with Ad Week and provided the company's sales vision as it prepares for a June 16 soft launch of the TV network. The channel will officially launch in the fall.

"When I'm talking to advertisers, I try to tell them, 'We're not going to be Fox News, we're not going to be MSNBC, and we're not going to be CNN,'" Byrnes said. "If you have to talk about the mindset of the network at all, it should be about a network who appeals to the heartland, and not as a geographical location, but as a frame of mind. It's more of a heartland sensibility. It's not just about what's being discussed in restaurants in New York and L.A."

Byrnes said the company is targeting advertisers that have a baby boomer audience — "Financial services, travel, health and fitness … Pharmaceutical, exercise, wellness," he said.

Byrnes said what makes the company different from other conservative news networks is that it doesn't take an extreme right-of-center viewpoint. Newsmax.com launched in 1998 under the guidance of CEO Christopher Ruddy.

"It's a center-right conservative website. It's not far-right," Byrnes said. "It's kind of moderate right, and that's where most people are — few people are all the way at one or the other end of the spectrum."

Newsmax TV, said Byrnes, will offer different content than what is presented on Fox News. And that's what will make the network stand out.

"We're very conscious of the fact that, from our users — and we do a lot of polling — people are really turned off by declarations that you're a conservative network or a liberal network, and the dynamic that exists where there's a lot of shrill conversation or yelling or ganging up," Byrnes said. "We're really trying to foster intelligent conversation. People are really fed up with what's going on in government right now because no answers are coming out.

"We have a long relationship with Bill Clinton; he's been interviewed a couple of times for the website. Alan Dershowitz is a contributor. It's about having a dialogue. We're not just a news organization — we're a lifestyle network as well."

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