The Fox Meltdown Accelerates

Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes was on the warpath back in June because of his network’s poor performance. Says Ailes:

“Anyone who displays launch-type intensity will continue to have a job at Fox News. Those who don’t will not. And that includes talent.”

Seems like an empty threat in as much as there is no talent at Fox. Be that as it may, Ailes must be firing up the nukes right about now. The August ratings (PDF) are out and, of the top 3 cable news networks, Fox alone has lost viewers. And not just an incremental loss, they are cratering.

Primetime – Persons 2+:

August ’06: 902 1511 371
August ’05: 748 2093 349
% change: +21% -28% +6%

Primetime – 25-54:

August ’06: 294 432 157
August ’05: 236 541 145
% change: +25% -20 +8%

What’s worse is that in at least eight consecutive months of year-to-year comparisons, Fox has shown declines and, again, is the only network to have accomplished that feat. The standout contributors to this debacle in August are Greta Van Susteren (-31%), Hannity & Colmes (-21%), and our boy O’Reilly (-15%). For those of you keeping score, Olberman’s Countdown increased 55% over it’s year ago number. So far this year, Olberman’s comparisons have been positive every month while O’Reilly’s have been negative.

As I’ve pointed out in previous analyses, we need to view these figures in context. Fox is still the runaway leader in cable news, but trends are not insignificant. And as CNN’s special on bin Laden last week demonstrated, there is an audience for quality news programming. That’s got to be bad news for Fox.