Fox News Viewership Down Double Digits as Rivals Get Biden Bump

‘The Goldbergs’ Settles for New Series Lows in Ratings and Viewers

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Fox News Viewership Down Double Digits as CNN, MSNBC Get Biden Bump

Rupert Murdoch’s once-insurmountable ratings lead has evaporated in the month when Donald Trump left the White House

Curious how Fox News will fare under President Joe Biden? If the month of January is any indicator, the network might be in for an uphill battle against cable-news competitors that it once dwarfed … just weeks ago.

In January 2021, Fox News shed 14% of its primetime (8 p.m. to 11 p.m.) audience compared to January 2020 and was  down 11% in the key age demographic of adults from 18 to 49. CNN, meanwhile, was up 125% last month over the previous year, and up 142% in the demo. MSNBC showed similarly huge increases, rising 51% in total viewers and 66% in the news demo.

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And the trouble isn’t just in primetime: Fox’s total day (6 a.m. to 6 a.m.) averages sunk 20% in total viewers from the previous January and 18% in the demo. The competition was up huger: CNN was up 151% in total viewers and 172% in the demo, while MSNBC gained 65% and 87%, respectively.

Fox News, which has dominated the cable news space for the entirety of Donald Trump’s presidency (and much of the last two decades), finished in third place in both primetime and total day averages for the month of January. That’s an unfamiliar position for the popular — and right-leaning — cable network. Overall in 2020, Fox News marked its 19th straight year as the top cable news network overall in total-day and primetime ratings. Eight of those came during the Obama/Biden administration.

After a month marked by major news events like the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the second impeachment of Donald Trump a week later and Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, Fox News Channel began to climb back into the ratings mix toward the end of the month. In January 2021’s final week, from Jan. 25 to Jan. 31, Fox finished first in primetime and second in total-day numbers.

In a Tuesday press release, Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott defended her network’s position. “We are extremely proud that viewers have consistently tuned in to our slate of original programming for nearly two decades, choosing Fox News as their go-to destination for not only breaking news coverage, but insightful analysis from a diversity of viewpoints.

Still, what a difference a year makes. Even in that last week of January, when Fox News ratings bounced back against its competitors, the network saw a 26% decline in primetime viewership compared to the year before (and a 28% drop in the news demo). The channel’s total day declines were again even worse, dropping 31% in total viewers and 38% among adults from 25 to 54.

Meanwhile, both CNN and MSNBC were up in that last week of January year-over-year.

Overall, CNN had its most-watched month ever in January and was the top cable news network across the board as a result, according to Nielsen Media Research ratings. That’s a big shift for the network, which usually competes more closely with its rivals for a second- or third-place finish, depending on the time slot and demo.

CNN averaged 1.907 million total viewers in total-day ratings, of whom 531,000 were in the advertiser-coveted age demographic of 25 to 54.

MSNBC brought in 1.662 million viewers, on average, with 298,000 in the demo.

Tony Maglio