Misinformation Finds a Way: OAN Goes OTA, Reinvents Itself as Broadcast Subchannel

One America News
Told to pound sand by DirecTV and Verizon, ultra right-wing propaganda network One America News is finding creative ways back to national distribution. (Image credit: Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Banished from all major U.S. pay TV services, OAN is going OTA.

The controversial far-right cable channel is now distributing itself as a broadcast subchannel with the aim of being in 100 broadcast TV markets by the end of the year, according to Bloomberg. 

One America News Network’s subchannel is currently in about 30 markets, including Pittsburgh; Las Vegas; Wichita, Kansas; Jacksonville, Florida; and Birmingham, Alabama.

“Viewers absolutely love it,” Vernon Van Winkle told Bloomberg. Van Winkle, who believes a foundational component of OAN dogma — that the 2020 presidential election was rigged — privately owns Las Vegas station KVPM-LD, whose signal reaches about 875,000 TV homes. 

“If my signal goes down for a second my phone lines are blowing up with people asking ‘What’s going on?’ ” Van Winkle added. 

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh production company Videohouse Inc. also licenses OAN for a subchannel that reaches 1.6 million households, about 160,000 of which have over-the-air antennas. 

“I’m trying get as much programming as I can so the people of Pittsburgh don’t have to suffer once they leave cable,” Videohouse president Ron Bruno also told Bloomberg. 

Herring Networks, which owns OAN, lost distribution for its channels on DirecTV and Verizon earlier this year. And it's still facing serious lawsuit threats from voting-machine manufacturers tied to OAN's vociferous reporting of former President Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” — the ruinous assertion, not supported by any evidence but fatally corrosive to any democracy, that the 2020 election was rigged. 

With no meaningful pay TV distribution left, OAN has tried to cobble back a national presence with FAST channel options. That gambit undoubtedly has limited potential for an ultra-conservative media company targeting primarily older viewers. 

As for the subchannel route, it's hard to estimate how many viewers OAN is reaching, much less advertising to. Bloomberg cited Nielsen data showing the share of U.S. TV homes with a broadcast TV antenna has risen to 15% from 10% in 2010. 

The emergence of live channel guides on connected TV platforms like Roku will undoubtedly drive that number higher in the near term. 

Angelo Carusone, president of nonprofit watchdog group Media Matters for America, told Bloomberg that OAN's distribution strategy is to “find as many distribution partners we can.”

Revenue is most likely still limited, Carusone said, but the media company is keeping the lights on with its audience until it can find a new tentpole pay TV partner. ▪️

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!