Monday, June 22, 2020

OAN May Have Trump's Support, But Lacks Cable Companies

One America News Network, the conservative TV station that’s been criticized for sharing conspiracy theories, has found a loyal fan in Donald Trump. The hard part will be parlaying that exposure into a larger audience, according to Bloomberg News.

The president gave the network a big boost this month -- tweeting an OAN story that maligned the elderly protester who was knocked down and injured by police on TV during a protest in Buffalo, New York.

But unlike the networks it wants to compete with -- Fox News, MSNBC and CNN -- OAN has never been carried by big pay-TV providers like Comcast Corp., Charter Communications Inc. and Dish Network Corp. To reach its audience, the network depends heavily on its largest distributor, AT&T Inc.’s DirecTV, which has been losing subscribers at a rapid clip.

DirecTV agreed to carry OAN in 2017 in a deal that at one point was scheduled to expire in early 2021, according to people familiar with the matter. The companies declined to comment on any negotiation to extend the agreement. Charles Herring, president of OAN parent Herring Networks Inc., said the deal won’t end in early 2021, but declined to provide details.

Launched in 2013, OAN says it’s available in about 35 million U.S. TV homes. Finding a spot on systems owned by Comcast, Charter and Dish would more than double that number, helping the channel reach another 48 million customers. For comparison, as of last June, Fox News had about 84 million subscribers.

OAN is also available online and through platforms like Roku, but it can’t reach the large swaths of viewers that -- like many Fox News fans -- prefer their cable news on cable. And Trump amplifying the network and igniting controversy around it could make it harder to win over cable distributors.

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