Fox News launches FoxNation.com

Network attempts to increase online reach

Fox News has started a Huffington Post-style Web site in an attempt to increase the network’s online reach.

FoxNation.com debuted Monday as a destination for political commentary, highlighted by columns, blogs and videos by the network’s personalities. Contributors include Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Greta Van Susteren.

As the site rolls out in the coming weeks, it will add social networking components and encourage visitors to post their opinions.

“In simple terms, it’s kind of Drudge meets Huffington Post,” said Joel Cheatwood, senior vice president at Fox News Channel, referring to Matt Drudge’s DrudgeReport.com and Arianna Huffington’s collaborative blog.

“It’s a chance for us to leverage some of the incredible opinion talent that we have, and really tap into a fan base that I think is more passionate than just about any other fan base in media,” said Cheatwood.

Fox News Channel has dominated its cable competitors, MSNBC and CNN, in the cable TV ratings. According to Nielsen Media Research, Fox has averaged 2.73 million prime-time viewers this month, through March 25. MSNBC trailed with 1.16 million and CNN had 1.14 million.

But Fox, which is owned by News Corp., has trailed significantly on the Web. FoxNews.com drew 16 million unique visitors in February, while MSNBC.com was visited by 41 million and CNN.com was visited by 36 million.

“They certainly got in the game a little quicker,” said Cheatwood. “We’re in the process of closing that gap.”

Cheatwood said that FoxNation.com is “welcoming of people of all sorts of mindsets and beliefs and perspectives.”

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