The cable news ratings for the third quarter of 2010 were released today, and Fox News is showing signs of decline as their viewership has decreased by 21%, and their top shows all posted double digit losses, while MSNBC’s shows grew and the network attracted more younger viewers.
Fox News is still dominating the cable news ratings. The network has the top 11 programs in cable news, but there are ominous signs that the empire is starting to crack. Compared to the third quarter of 2009, Fox has lost 21% of their total viewers, and 26% of their younger viewers. The biggest loser on the network was Bill O’Reilly who saw his program The O’Reilly Factor lose 12% of its total viewers and 21% of its young viewers. Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Bret Baier, and Greta Van Susteren rounded out the top five cable news shows, and they each posted double digit declines.
Fox News is now averaging 1.831 million prime time viewers a day, and only 443,000 viewers age 25-54. The problem for Fox News is even more acute because second place MSNBC is actually growing. While Glenn Beck suffered double digit losses at 5PM, Chris Matthews posted modest gains of 1% overall and 8% in the demo. While Bret Baier declined, Ed Schultz has seen his viewership skyrocket at 6 PM. The Ed Show is up 24% over last year in total viewers and 8% in the demo. Keith Olbermann’s Countdown was down over last year by 6% in total viewers and 19% in the demo, but Olbermann’s was the only cable news show to gain audience since the second quarter. Rachel Maddow gained 6% in total views, but lost 1% with the demo.
MSNBC has a total prime time audience of 687,000 which is a bit more than a third of Fox News’ total, but they have more than half of FNC demo (age 25-54) audience, with 229,000 younger viewers. I don’t think the summer blues is an answer for the loss of viewership over at Fox. If it was seasonal then why did MSNBC’s viewership increase? The answer I think is rooted in Fox’s shift to the far right. As FNC has become the Tea Party news network, and engaged in straight GOP propaganda, moderate and liberal Republicans along with conservative Democrats, and Independents fled.