The latest ratings report for cable news networks reveals a sharp decline for America’s #1 provider of right-wing propaganda. Fox News is leaking more than the BP oil rig in the gulf. According to TV By the Numbers:
In May, all of Fox News’ primetime programs posted their worst 25-54 demo deliveries in a year or more. May represents The O’Reilly Factor’s worst performance since January 2009, Hannity’s lowest delivery to date since taking over the time period in January 2009 and On the Record’s lowest since May 2009. Fox Report with Shep Smith had its lowest demo delivery since December 2008.
Even worse for Fox, their ratings have dropped about 20-35% in almost every hour of the day from their numbers at the beginning of the year. Fox’s stars were all particularly hurt in the key advertising demographic of 25-54 year olds. Neil Cavuto was down 29%, Bill O’Reilly dropped 30%, and Sean Hannity sunk 35%. Glenn Beck was not immune either. Despite his claim on his program last week that his numbers had risen, the truth is that he suffered a 23% drop in the demo and 26% in total viewers.
To be sure, the cable news market was fairly soft last month. The only network that posted increases was CNN, and that was likely due to the favorable comparisons over their previous dismal performance. This ratings report is nothing to brag about for any of the big players. But Fox hit some milestone lows that need to be put in perspective considering their proclivity for lying about their market position. Beck has already made ludicrous claims about his numbers, and O’Reilly spends half his time boasting about himself.
While Fox remains in the top spot for cable news, we need to remember two things: 1) Cable news is a small market that in total draws about half the audience of the broadcast news providers. And 2) Being #1 is not a validation of quality. Just ask anyone who’s ever eaten at McDonalds.