After years of dominating cable news, Fox News has found itself in an unfamiliar spot: the bottom of the ratings charts. Last week, for the first time since 2000, MSNBC and CNN topped Fox in viewership, capitalizing on huge numbers after the Georgia runoff and riots in DC.
According to ratings data, CNN “topped cable networks” with roughly 2.8 million viewers per day between January 4th and January 10th, with 4.2 million viewers in primetime. During that same time period, MSNBC had approximately 2.3 million viewers per day and 3.8 million in prime time. Fox News, however, had just 1.7 million per day and 3.2 million in primetime. Yahoo Finance reported that “Newsmax, a smaller rival that has been promoted by President Trump, said it saw record ratings in primetime of 443,000 for the week. Its total day ratings averaged 294,000.”
As reported by the Daily Beast, on Wednesday January 6th — the day of the riots — CNN averaged 5.941 million total viewers, while MSNBC averaged 4.543 million and Fox News averaged 3.464 million. On January 7th, CNN averaged 3.854 million total viewers, MSNBC averaged 3.321 million, and Fox News averaged 1.935 million. Closing out the week on January 8th, CNN had 3.121 million total viewers, MSNBC had 2.816 million and Fox News had 1.702 million.
While “all three networks saw their viewership soar” after the attacks on the US Capitol building in Washington, D.C., the “CNN and MSNBC bumps far outpaced the one at Fox.”
Since the beginning of the century, Fox News has “consistently been the most-watched, and arguably the most influential, cable news outlet — by a mile,” according to Mediaite, with viewers becoming accustomed “to lengthy stretches in which the total combined viewership of CNN and MSNBC was less than the number of people tuning into Fox News.” In April of 2010, Mediate even published a piece titled “Fox News Ratings Dominance Hits Nice Round Number: 100 Months At #1.”
However, for 8 days in a row, Fox news has “been in last place in the cable news ratings,” with critics reporting on their sudden fall from the top spot. According to the Daily Beast, this sudden post-election decline has driven Rupert Murdoch to take “a more hands-on role,” and that “multiple network insiders” have said that “Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott and President Jay Wallace are fighting for their jobs.” Salon also reported that Sean Hannity, one of Fox News’ biggest stars, was experiencing a “3-to-1 ratings loss against CNN as he follows Trump into post-election madness.”
With Fox News announcing a revamp of their daytime lineup on January 11th, these are turbulent and — arguably — unprecedented times for the conservative media giant. Describing the “ratings battles” facing Fox News, Vanity Fair wrote “the cable juggernaut’s programming shake-up, with a rotating cast of opinion hosts replacing Martha MacCallum at 7 p.m., comes as viewers are flocking to CNN and MSNBC following the Capitol insurrection and as Newsmax and OAN chip away from the right.”
Regardless of whether or not such issues are temporary, competitors will be watching Fox News closely as Trump’s presidency comes to an end, with Biden’s presidency set to begin in just a few days time.