OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Fox News anchor Sean Hannity’s primetime show is feeling the heat since popular host Tucker Carlson was ousted from the network.
Hannity’s show, which got up to nearly 2 million in the final weeks of May, has fallen to around a 1.7 million average in June so far. For comparison, Hannity’s primetime show averaged around 3 million each night prior to Fox News taking Carlson off the air in late April.
“Fox News and MSNBC have been neck and neck in the cable news ratings in recent days and Wednesday was no different as Fox News and MSNBC tied in the total day demo. Fox beat MSNBC in total viewers in both the total day and primetime averages but lost the prime-time demo to MSNBC,” Mediaite reported. “Fox’s The Five remained the top-rated show on cable news with 2.68 million total viewers, helping to boost Fox’s average.”
“MSNBC and Fox both scored 156,000 total day demo viewers, while CNN was third with 111,000. In total day viewers, Fox won with 1.39 million viewers to MSNBC’s 1.2 million — CNN had 557,000. In prime time, Fox just beat MSNBC with 1.79 million total viewers to 1.76 million, and CNN was in third with 706,000. MSNBC won the prime-time demo with 216,000 viewers over Fox’s 166,000. CNN was third with 140,000 demo viewers,” the outlet added.
After dominating cable news ratings for years, the Fox News Channel has been knocked from its top perch left-wing rival MSNBC in key time slots.
“Nielsen data regarding the week ending this past Sunday was shared on Twitter on Tuesday by A.J. Katz, a reporter specializing in the cable news business. According to the data, Fox’s primetime 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET viewership averaged 1,504,429. The average viewership for the more left-leaning MSNBC over the same time frame averaged 1,520,857, narrowly beating out the conservative network that has long been a leader in cable news viewership,” Newsweek reported.
“Barring a last-second data reporting change, Fox’s 120-week-long winning streak in primetime appears to be over,” Katz wrote.
New: According to Nielsen data, Fox News averaged 1,504,429 primetime viewers last week, while MSNBC averaged 1,520,857 primetime viewers.
Barring a last-second data reporting change, Fox’s 120 week-long winning streak in primetime appears to be over. https://t.co/Q48BSYuFE7
— A.J. Katz (@ajkatztv) June 13, 2023
The network has not yet announced a permanent replacement for its 8 p.m. ET primetime slot. In the interim, they have opted for a rotation of guest hosts for the hour.
Media Matters reports that viewership in this timeslot has declined by half since Carlson’s departure, with viewership across the entire lineup experiencing a general decline.
“The decline is also likely to have a negative impact on Fox News’s ability to negotiate higher fees from cable providers, as it was hoping to do before firing Carlson,” Newsweek added.
The change in rankings coincides with a news cycle that, as mentioned by Katz in a subsequent tweet, favors MSNBC, as the network tends to experience a rise in viewership during times when Trump encounters difficulties.
Fox News has maintained an impressive streak of 120 weeks as the leader in average weekly primetime viewership, falling just short of two years and four months.
The last time the network did not secure the top spot in weekly viewership was in mid-February 2021.
Around that time, Adweek reported a surge in viewership for MSNBC, surpassing CNN in average daily viewers. Although this marked a momentary shift in the rankings, Fox News still outperformed MSNBC in average monthly primetime viewership during that period.
Adweek’s report noted that MSNBC saw increased viewership in February 2021, driven by its coverage of significant events such as the second impeachment of Trump, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the initial weeks of Joe Biden’s presidency.
However, the report also noted that MSNBC’s viewership in February declined compared to the preceding month, which featured coverage of the January 6, 2021, Capitol riots and their political repercussions.
Since being taken off the air, Carlson has begun posting short monologues to Twitter, which Fox says is a violation of his contract. The network has sent him a cease-and-desist letter, though so far, he has refused to do so, arguing that Fox is in violation of their contract with him.