Fox News has fallen and it can’t get up. Ratings for the month of May 2014, have just been published, and the numbers are devastating for Fox News. While still occupying the top slot among the cable news networks, Fox saw about a quarter of its audience dissolve across every demographic group and time period.
Every Fox program in primetime dropped by double-digits, with Bill O’Reilly taking the deepest dive. Sean Hannity posted some of his lowest numbers ever in his new 10:00 pm time slot. And Megyn Kelly’s new, and highly anticipated, primetime show failed to improve on the ratings performance of her predecessor.
To be sure, Fox was not the only network to see declines. In fact, CNN had an even larger dip. The news was much better for MSNBC who was down the least of all the cable news networks. They lost a relatively insignificant five percent of total viewers, but actually saw increases for Morning Joe, and for Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow in primetime.
For Fox to post numbers that they haven’t seen since August of 2001 (before 9/11) is a painful blow to both their reputation and their bank account. But they have even bigger problems. The viewers that do tune in to Fox are significantly older than viewers of their competitors. Fox News has always had the oldest skewing audience in cable news. With a median age of 68.8 years, Fox’s audience is over six years older than either CNN or MSNBC. It’s even worse for their top rated program (O’Reilly) who’s average viewer is over 72 years old. And their Great Blonde Hope (Kelly), who was specifically brought in to draw younger viewers, also exceeded Fox’s average with her typical
viewer voyeur being over 70.
An analysis of the audience composition for the three cable news networks shows that, of Fox’s total audience, a pitiful 20% are in the 25-54 age group favored by advertisers. It’s even worse for their primetime schedule where only 15% fall into that group. That compares to CNN with 30%/35% respectively, and MSNBC with 31%/28%. In other words, CNN and MSNBC draw 50% more total viewers in the younger demos, and they double Fox’s ratio in primetime.
This makes it all the more curious that Fox News is barreling forward with a strategy to viciously insult their biggest viewer bloc. Recently, Fox regular Karl Rove launched an attack on Hillary Clinton with vile inferences that she is “old and stale” or perhaps brain damaged. Expressing such open contempt and belittling of the capacity for older persons to be effective leaders is not a particularly sound way to ingratiate oneself with the senior citizens that make up the bulk of ones audience.
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Apparently Fox is not satisfied with alienating African-Americans and Latinos and women and youth and the middle-class and workers and, of course, most of America’s liberals and moderates. Now they are aiming to narrow their appeal even more by driving away the last remnants of their audience – senior citizens. Keep up the good work, Fox.