Don’t look so down, conservative DirecTV subscribers: The satellite-TV provider has already replaced Newsmax with another right-wing cable news channel.
The First, a conservative-leaning opinion and commentary network that boasts former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and former NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch, takes over Newsmax’s vacated Channel 349 on DirecTV and Channel 1220 on AT&T U-verse “very soon,” DirecTV said on January 27.
There will be no additional fees for subscribers, and a person with knowledge of the deal told IndieWire the parties struck “essentially” the same agreement that was on the table for Newsmax. It will be available for free to DirecTV, DirecTV Stream and U-verse customers as part of a multi-year deal.
This marks the first time The First has been made available outside of streaming. It initially launched on Paramount’s Pluto TV in 2019, where it will remain in FAST (free, ad-supported streaming television) form. The person with knowledge said the satellite provider supports The First staying as a FAST channel, just as it would have with Newsmax.
“DirecTV values different viewpoints and perspectives and will always work to preserve expansive choice among a wide variety of entertainment and information services to appeal to the unique tastes and interests of our diverse customer base,” Rob Thun, chief content officer at DirecTV, said in a statement. “As we’ve successfully done with other emerging channels, we look forward to helping The First continue to expand its audience reach, while constantly ensuring that our customers receive a strong value.”
“DirecTV clearly recognizes the importance of offering a wide array of views and perspectives to their customers across the U.S., and we’re thrilled The First is now among them since we reach conservatives who aren’t beholden to any one party’s talking points,” added Christopher Balfe, the CEO of First TV. “We give rise to voices who are passionate about American values yet too often ignored, and now have a unique opportunity to broaden our reach without saddling DirecTV and its customers with any added financial demands.”
While DirecTV maintained dumping Newsmax was about carriage fees, it left Newsmax accusing DirecTV of “political discrimination and censorship,” choosing to oust conservative voices like their own and the pro-Trump network OAN (which DirecTV dropped from its lineup last April). DirecTV also offers Fox News and its SVOD offering Fox Nation, the latter of which DirecTV customers can get via a free, 60-day trial.
Some of the daily programs on The First include the afternoon “The Dana Show” featuring Loesch and primetime series “The Liz Wheeler Show,” “No Spin News with Bill O’Reilly,” and “I’m Right with Jesse Kelly,” hosted by the former Marine and combat veteran.
Newsmax TV in IndieWire’s December ranking of all 126 cable channels for 2022, ranked 56th in primetime (8 p.m. to 11 p.m.), according to Nielsen’s Live + Same Day ratings. That put Newsmax below BBC America and Disney Junior, and above the NFL Network and Science Channel, while Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN were all Top 10 channels. Nexstar’s NewsNation, a more down-the-middle cable news channel, was 85th.
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