The recent news that former President Donald Trump is launching a new social media platform called Truth Social, with plans also announced for a subscription streaming service called TMTG+, should come as no surprise.
Trump was reported to have been considering launching a new cable news network with former Fox News chief Roger Ailes if he lost the 2016 election, and more recently he launched — and then closed — a blog called “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump.”
VIP+ has conducted an analysis of the current market for conservative media outlets in order to assess the potential for both Truth Social and TMTG+. This analysis takes into account U.S. YouTube viewership, U.S. web traffic and TV audience figures where applicable and shows that while there is an audience for the proposed services, it will not be close to the scale of the ex-president’s banned Twitter account.
Tubular Labs’ measurement of unique views and time spent in September in the U.S. on YouTube and Facebook shows how online viewership of conservative news outlets is dominated by Fox News, which, while clearly having a right-wing bent, isn’t as extreme to the right as its challengers and presumably Trump’s ventures. In terms of minutes watched, Fox News pulls in 5.5x more than the seven other outlets combined.
Looking at total unique monthly visits to conservative websites, Fox News once again dominates, to such an extent that to show the monthly trend meant changing the scale to a logarithmic scale — i.e., a nonlinear scale.
For the month of September, visits to FoxNews.com were 3.9x those of the rest of the conservative outlets, per data from Comscore. This isn’t to suggest there isn’t an audience out there for this content — the 10 sites saw a total of 24.6 million unique visitors — but it is a way to size the potential demand for Truth Social, given its positioning will likely be more in line with The Blaze, Newsmax, Breitbart, etc.
The final way to assess audience interest is via TV audiences watching content that’s in line with what would be expected to be on Truth Social. Of the two TV networks Trump has most recently endorsed, only Newsmax is measured by Nielsen (OANN is not). The trend in Newsmax’s primetime viewership is down, with Q4 2021 to date seeing total audience down by 24% and 25-54 viewership down by 52% versus Q4 2020.
This all suggests that the audience for Truth Social will be somewhat limited versus the entire conservative spectrum. If viewers were not happy with the content on Fox News, then the more extreme outlets would see much greater levels of viewing time, which would be indicative of heightened interest in them.
Bear in mind that Fox News already has its own news and entertainment SVOD service in Fox Nation, which recent estimates place at having around 1 million subscribers. While some of these may pick up the TMTG+ service in addition, or replace it with, Fox Nation, it’s unlikely to assume that in a hypercompetitive SVOD landscape, most will pay for two conservative news and lifestyle streaming services.
Consider, too, that Republicans are less likely than Democrats to say they get any of their news from social media, per data provided to VIP+ by consumer insights firm GetWizer. This could point to the majority of Republicans not being interested in news delivered via social media, but it doesn’t factor in those using social media for entertainment, which is likely where Truth Social would be on the spectrum.
While Trump can expect an initial boost in sign-ups given his relative prestige among his supporters, whether this can hold will depend on what else Truth Social can offer. It will be tougher to sell the TMTG+ SVOD service given the evidence of the niche scale of the most interested audience.