On Saturday, when major decision desks were calling the 2020 election for Joe Biden, Fox News joined them. For much of the day, the conservative news outlet was splashed with chyrons about Biden’s victory as its correspondents covered the historic moment in earnest. Over at Newsmax, meanwhile, readers could find stories about how the “mainstream media” called it for Biden, but Newsmax itself had not.
Lines were drawn in the sand, and for Newsmax Media, those lines seem to be paying off. The conservative outlet’s mobile app is definitely enjoying a moment since the election. According to data tracking firm Sensor Tower, Newsmax’s rank among free apps in Apple’s App Store climbed from No. 1,061 on Election Day to No. 8 on November 8, the day after the election was called for Biden. As of yesterday, it hit its highest rank ever, Sensor Tower says. The app is seeing a similar bump on Google Play.
Fox News, one of the most-watched networks on cable TV, has managed to stay consistently popular with its audience throughout multiple presidential administrations. After Donald Trump’s surprise election victory in 2016, many wondered how the network would pivot from the anti-Obama sentiment it had cultivated over the eight years prior. And yet, it’s had some of the best ratings in its history during the Trump administration. If history is any guide, Fox will probably figure out how to keep that momentum going in the post-Trump era, too, even as the world turns its attention to President-elect Biden. Given its track record, it would be naive to count Fox out.
But with the rise of streaming-friendly outlets like Newsmax, it’s also clear that more viewers are seeking alternative information sources as they become increasingly aggrieved by the perceived slights of what they consider “mainstream media”—and it doesn’t get more mainstream than Fox News.
A similar splintering of audiences is taking place on social media networks as conservative users—angry about what they see as anti-conservative bias from Big Tech companies like Facebook and Twitter—flock to alternative platforms like Parler, which similarly shot to the top of app store charts in the days following Biden’s victory.
Of course, it will be a while before the dust settles on the post-Trump era, and the true winners won’t be known for some time. But if this week is any indication, the balance of power in the media universe could look a lot different in the months and years to come.