In the July ratings for the cable news networks, Fox continues its steady year-over-year decline. This July’s book includes reporting on the Israel/Lebanon conflict. Breaking news events like this spike ratings for news programs. So when comparing this year’s July book with last year’s, it is important to note that there was no comparable news event in July of 2005. That means that the comparisons with this year would have been even worse, but for the boost caused by current events.
UPDATE: Here is an hourly breakdown (PDF) of the numbers by demo and program, with comparisons to 2005.
Total Day – 25-54 Demo:
Primetime – 25-54 Demo:
The severe decline in the Fox and Headline News primetime schedules suggests a possible audience fatigue for the bloviating pundits that populate those dayparts. That includes Bill O’Reilly, Hannity & Colmes, and Greta Van Susteren on Fox, and Nancy Grace and Glen Beck on on HLN. While the increases at MSNBC and CNN may suggest an appreciation for the counter-programming on MSNBC (i.e. Keith Olbermann’s Countdown) and the hard news flavor of CNN.
Most of all, I believe that the significance of the O’Reilly, et al, free fall is that we may have pushed back the hands of the Armageddon Clock a half hour or so. There is still a long way to go before Fox is knocked off its pedestal, but the trends are consistently pointing toward that outcome.