For All The Hype, Trump's Favorite 'News' Channel (OAN) Faces Shrinking Footprint

from the dysfunction-junction dept

The President’s favorite sycophancy channel, OAN (One America News) has seen no shortage of headlines in the recent weeks for its dubious “news” programming. Said programming has included claims that elderly people are Antifa agitators, that the coronavirus was created in a North Carolina lab as part of a “deep state” plot, all while banning polls that dare to suggest that dear leader may not be doing all that hot in the wake of corruption, incompetence, and a raging pandemic. That’s before you get to media allegations that the outlet has some uncomfortable parallels to Russian state TV.

But the people hyperventilating over the network’s Trumpist disinformation and pole position in the White House briefing room often forget to mention that the channel doesn’t actually have all that many viewers. While the channel currently reaches 35 million potential households (notably fewer actually watch), that’s a far cry from the 119 million TV households that have access to major news networks like CNN and Fox News. Major cable TV providers like Dish, Charter, and Comcast don’t carry the channel at all, leaving Verizon and AT&T as the only major cable TV providers that think it’s worth it.

And even that could be changing. The company’s contract with AT&T/DirecTV, first signed in 2017 and expiring in 2021, could be in trouble. Most notably because of the tough terms affixed to carriage at a time when cable providers are already being pushed to cut expensive dead weight due to cord cutting:

“One hurdle to getting carried by other major TV providers may be OAN?s contract with DirecTV. Under the terms, DirecTV is required to make OAN available to 85% of its subscribers, and the channel must seek the same arrangement with other pay-TV companies, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. In addition, OAN and its sister channel, AWE, which stands for ?A Wealth of Entertainment,? charge pay-TV providers a monthly fee of about 15 cents per subscriber, according to Herring.”

Cable providers have been cutting dead channel weight for several years as they work to try and cut their own costs — to in turn prevent more cable TV customers from cutting cable TV out of their diet entirely (it’s not really working). Sources told Bloomberg those conditions are likely too onerous for AT&T/DirecTV, and if that falls apart, OAN would lose access to yet another 19 million US households:

“Together, those provisions may be too onerous to entice big cable-TV providers to carry the network, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the contract is private. And OAN will have a large chunk of its audience at stake when it negotiates a contract renewal with AT&T, which has about 19 million pay-TV customers.”

OAN, to this point, has tried to frame AT&T’s decision to carry disinformation as an act of bravery:

“We are very pleased that AT&T seems to want to offer programming for everybody and not just people with one viewpoint,” he said.

But if you’re familiar with AT&T, you know it’s not about bravery, it’s about profitability. The company is swimming in debt from a recent slate of megamergers and losing customers hand over fist due to debt-recouping rate hikes. It’s in the process of firing employees en masse (despite a parade of huge favors from the Trump administration), and examining every opportunity to save a buck. Combine that with growing OAN criticism and the potential for a looming political sea change, and concerns that OAN is on the cusp of being a major league media player don’t appear entirely warranted.

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Companies: oan, one america news

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Comments on “For All The Hype, Trump's Favorite 'News' Channel (OAN) Faces Shrinking Footprint”

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22 Comments
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Bloof (profile) says:

Few people may watch it, but only a small fraction of americans watch Fox News and they still manage to do vast amounts of damage to the western world. The crap that originates in these places still manages to circulate, the stories get repeated, passed along, reported on by other outlets until they’re accepted as fact by the elderly and gullible.

A thimbleful of raw sewage in the punchbowl is still probably going to make people sick.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I guess it’s technically true that "only a small fraction of Americans watch Fox News", but I think that’s a bit of a misleading statement. Millions of viewers may not seem like much in the context of hundreds of millions of Americans, but it’s the most-watched cable TV network in the country and the fifth-most-watched TV network overall. OANN doesn’t subscribe to Nielsen and doesn’t publish its numbers; it’s described itself at times as being the fourth-rated cable news network, and that may be true but that’s kind of like saying soccer is the fifth most popular sport in the US: it may technically be true, but it neglects to mention just how big the gap is between it and the top three.

OANN isn’t in the same league as Fox News; it’s not just that the vast majority of Americans don’t watch it, it’s that the vast majority of Americans don’t even know what it is.

That said, they’ve got the President’s ear. And that means they’ve got a lot of power no matter how many (or how few) other people watch them.

Anonymous Coward says:

I remember when OAN first showed up on AT&T. It actually took a little watching for the realization to sink in that they had that fringe-right agenda. The way i have heard it mentioned in recent months, it must have really… uh, stepped up its game. Maybe that happened during the run-up to the last election and the current administration? I’d be interested in a charting of the escalating craziness levels over time.

Figures AWE is part of the same gig. Makes sense.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Is… is Mr. Bode fulfilling a quota for stories? Or is he completely unfamiliar with how information laundering works? You know, the process of injecting extremist viewpoints into mainstream media? God almighty, does anyone remember when TD was media literate? I think the writers’ social links with Silicon Valley toffs have eroded their brains.

ECA (profile) says:

WHY in hell?

" charge pay-TV providers a monthly fee of about 15 cents per subscriber, "

Cable is charging US, for a Channel thats Charging THEM, 15 cents per person they GIVE IT TO??

Another reason for Ala-Carte Channels.. At least A GROUP of channels that ONLY those who want it, will PAY. Please…

Freedom of speech is 1 thing.
freedom of idiocy is another, but we cant walk away from it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: WHY in hell?

Cable is charging US, for a Channel thats Charging THEM, 15 cents per person they GIVE IT TO??

I could not figure that out from the article. Does "make OAN available to 85% of its subscribers" mean that 85% need to have the ability to subscribe, or that 85% have to "subscribe" (voluntarily or not)?

PaulT (profile) says:

I wonder if things like OAN will be good in the long term. They’re so obviously batshit that the number of people who actually believe anything they say is rather low, and as the far right go there and out of the mainstream, maybe actual news reporting will stop being infected by the "both sides" narrative and get back to facts again.

Then again, one of the people dumb enough to believe what they say is in the White house right now, so who knows?

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Perhaps Fox and Friends will run a feature?

Haha no. Rupert Murdoch isn’t going to prop up his competitors; he’s most likely the person who talked Trump into scuttling the Sinclair merger.

I said this the other day but it bears repeating: I forget who said it, but I read a line once to the effect of "Being conservative is just Rupert Murdoch’s hobby. Being rich is his passion." When he’s presented with a choice between promoting his conservative ideology and promoting his own self-enrichment, he chooses the latter absolutely every time.

MO'B (profile) says:

A Shrinking Footprint....

for the man with tiny hands…. sounds like OAN is just "rightsizing" to me!

I had a similar experience as A/C above, never having heard of this channel before then found it on my Directv lineup. "Hey, a new channel…", but I don’t think I made it 5min before my head started throbbing from the stupid coming out of my TV.
And I’m not surprised that AWE is owned by the same company, great shows like "Buying Yachts" , "Buying Jets" and "Buying Islands" really shows who their target audience is.
The Next Gen for the Rich and Shameless….

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