Remember those days when The Drudge Report would post all the cable news ratings and you’d laugh at how soundly Fox News would trounce all of its competition, all the time? Those days look to be over.
We reported last week how Fox’s day-to-day ratings were seeing an alarming decline, with MSNBC, of all places, besting Fox. Well, we now have a snapshot of how bad last week was in its entirety, and it’s not good news.
For the first time in 17 years, Fox spent an entire week in third place in prime time in the all-important 25-to-54 year-old demographic.
The 25-to-54 year-old demographic is the most coveted demo in the news business, so the third place finish is painful. To put things in perspective, the last time Fox had ratings that bad in that demo, it was a nascent network looking to take down the industry Goliath, CNN. It was the year 2000, and Bill Clinton was still president, and, as others have noted, “Gladiator” was in theaters and Jesse Watters was still in college.
– MSNBC was #1 in prime time in both total viewers and the demo, thanks to ratings juggernaut Rachel Maddow. It was also the second most-watched network in all of cable behind TNT, which has NBA Playoffs.
– CNN was #1 in daytime in the demo, and shows from The Lead with Jake Tapper (at 4pm) to AC360 (at 8pm) were #1 in the demo as well.
– Fox News was #3 in prime time in the demo and #2 in daytime in the demo, but held on to first place in total viewers for daytime.
There are several possible reasons for the decline.
- The loss of head honcho Roger Ailes, who had steered the ship from the beginning, followed by the exits of primetime ratings-grabber Bill O’Reilly and rising star Megyn Kelly.
- The retooled primetime lineup has lost some star power and is still in the early stages of building their audiences. Tucker Carlson will be just fine in O’Reilly’s old spot, but The Five will need to figure out how to grow into its new time slot.
- Sean Hannity isn’t Sean Hannity anymore. Gone are the days of the feisty Hannity sparring with his old co-host, Alan Colmes. Today’s Sean is relentlessly pro-Trump, which certainly has limited appeal.
- Then there’s Trump himself. It’s no surprise that “resistance”-friendly networks like MSNBC and CNN are doing better serving up endless anti-Trump stories to a hungry audience. Much like Fox itself benefitted from the Tea Party movement, Fox’s competitors are reaping the rewards of the Trump presidency.
There is some good news for Fox, though, in that they still have the most total viewers for day and prime time during the month of May, beating both CNN and MSNBC.