“People judge RT by its television output, which is completely the wrong way to judge it as the viewing figures are not very impressive,” said Prof Stephen Hutchings, of the University of Manchester, who is conducting an academic research project on the channel. “Their success is down to their online output.”
Crucial to this success is the tone, exemplified by ICYMI and other parts of RT’s online operation which combine tabloid desire for screaming headlines with the snark and memes associated with internet culture.
“The irreverence is very much part of their strategy,” explained Hutchings. “It’s targeting a youth market for which that kind of irreverent discourse is the norm. They can work with the grain of online culture, they’re very good at that.”