Ruddy to 'Morning Joe': Newsmax Ready For Major TV Launch

Wednesday, 12 Mar 2014 03:09 PM

By Wanda Carruthers

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Image: Ruddy to 'Morning Joe': Newsmax Ready For Major TV Launch
Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy was featured on MSNBC's popular "Morning Joe" program on Wednesday morning to discuss the rollout plans for his company's upcoming 24/7 TV news network.

Newsmax TV, already available at NewsmaxTV.com, is the expansion of the conservative website's news gathering efforts. It also is part of a transformation that will bring TV across multiple platforms, Ruddy told hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

Newsmax is "one of the kings out there as far as political web sites go, especially in conservative networks,” Scarborough said.

“There are some viewers of this network who don't understand, in the conservative world, that it [Newsmax] is a massive form of communication,” added panelist Mark Halperin, senior political analyst for "Time" and author of the best-selling books, “Game Change” and “Double Down.”

Newsmax has created a lot of media buzz lately after Bloomberg Businessweek broke the story about its major expansion. And on Sunday, CNN’s “Reliable Sources” had a lengthy interview with Ruddy about the plunge into 24-hour news television.

"The story is Newsmax and the transformation that's going on in the Internet right now," Ruddy said. "We have six hours of live programming [from noon to 6 p.m.]. We're going to have 15 hours [of live shows]. The launch will be in late June or early summer."

Story continues below video.



Ruddy said the new network will be available on cable and satellite systems and some broadcast outlets, and will focus on OTT distribution. OTT, or “over the top” distribution systems, allows video and television streaming on computers, smart phones, smart TVs and other devices.

Newsmax TV currently is available free online, on iPhone apps, on Roku and many other devices.

Ruddy thinks there is a big market for his upstart network. He cited recent polling data that puts most Americans squarely in the political center or just right of center, with at least 100 million Americans identifying themselves as conservatives or moderate with conservative views.

He said the company wants to go beyond politics and labels like ‘conservative’ or liberal,’ and provide news, lifestyle, health, and financial information to viewers, especially Baby Boomers.

"What's happening is the Internet is becoming TV everywhere,” Ruddy said. “That's going to become the major form of TV distribution."

With a formidable and growing base of staff, technology, and funding, "the time was right" to transform Newsmax into a "24/7 programming show," Ruddy said. He described much of cable news offerings today as either “dull and boring" or "strident and shrill."

He said his goal is to change that dynamic.

One of his models, Ruddy said, is Britain's Sky News, the brainchild of billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Sky News is “great television, great conversation, interesting debates, great feature programming," Ruddy said. But it generally avoids polarizing politics, he said.

Ruddy also said he learned a lot from his own background as a "pretty hardcore, tough journalist" covering former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. In retrospect, Ruddy said, he was wrong "on hitting Bill Clinton too hard."

Newsmax also is looking to reach out to a younger audience.

“We want a fair balance,” Ruddy added, pointing out that Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor and best-selling author, uses Newsmax as his blogging home page. "Do our viewers all agree with Alan Dershowitz? No, not on everything, but he's controversial.”

He said the public has long yearned for an approach that was not only "fair and balanced," but also was "unpredictable, interesting."

Ruddy stressed that he is not creating a new Fox News. He wants something different with programming appealing to a younger demographic.

“The average age of a Fox [News] viewer is 64 years of age. Our average age is 47 years of age across our total reach, according to comScore. That's a huge difference,“ he said.

Newsmax developing original web TV content is not really new, Ruddy said. Even "Morning Joe" had used Newsmax TV video clips of their interviews with major political figures.

Newsmax will grow into a "powerhouse in getting news," Ruddy said.

Already, though, Newsmax.com ranks in the top three among Internet news sites in the key News/Politics category of 70 million Americans tracked by comScore. Last month in that that category Newsmax's viewership beat out Fox News, attracting 12 million unique viewers to Fox’s 10 million.

Newsmax and its 2,000 partner websites have a total reach of 49 million visitors overall who make close to one billion page views.

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