Anyone with a mobile device can watch One America in chunks on YouTube, or through the network’s app, or on the streaming service Roku, but the majority of One America’s viewers are, like Trump, TV watchers. In order to watch it on TV, you have to live in the right place, because only a smattering of U.S. cable operators carry OAN, representing a potential pool of about 35 million households, or less than a third of the total U.S. television audience. The network’s precise viewership remains a mystery. The Herrings don’t participate in Nielsen surveys and have declined to share subscriber data. But according to the scant available data from Comscore and conversations with industry analysts, at least 34.5 million of those households are not watching OAN.
The more you search for evidence of OAN viewers, in fact, the less they seem to exist. “If you look at the constellation of sources around the 2020 election, OAN registers but it doesn’t make the top thousand,” says Ethan Zuckerman, a Web 2.0 pioneer and media and public-policy professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. “That surprised me … but it seems like they’re really focused on being a TV network rather than a multimedia platform.” Indeed, most of the segments on OAN’s YouTube page have just a few thousand views. OAN often gets compared to Breitbart News, but it exemplifies a reversal of Brietbart’s strategy under Steve Bannon, which sought to leverage social media aggressively. One America may be relatively new, but it seems almost pre-web.