OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
For now, it remains unclear to most people — and certainly to fans of Tucker Carlson — why Fox News decided to terminate his show and “part ways” with him, but clearly, it wasn’t a great business decision, at least so far.
Not only was Carlson the network’s ratings king, but he managed to pull record numbers of the key 25-54-year-old demographic that is so important to advertisers.
On the first night a fill-in host replaced him in the time slot, however, that key demo abandoned the network in droves, according to the latest viewership figures.
Show Buzz Daily data show that Carlson’s replacement program, hosted by anchor Brian Kilmeade, “garnered fewer ratings in the key age demo on its first night compared to Carlson’s average a week prior on Monday, April 17,” The Daily Caller reported.
According to the data, the program received a rating of 0.24 in the 25-54 age group, whereas Carlson’s show earned a rating of 0.37 in the same demographic on April 17th. In terms of total viewership, the program had an average of almost 2.6 million viewers, which is lower than Carlson’s show on Monday, which had an average of approximately 3.7 million viewers.
Cable News Rankings Mon Apr 24
1⃣@TheFive @DanaPerino @GregGutfeld @JudgeJeanine @HaroldFordJr @JasonInTheHouse*
— RoadMN 📈 (@RoadMN) April 25, 2023
When it aired on Friday, April 21, Carlson’s final episode drew in a total of 2.65 million viewers, surpassing the viewership of CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” and MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes.” According to Adweek, in 2022, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” ranked second in total cable news viewership with 3.3 million viewers in total. The program’s ratings were second only to Fox News’ non-primetime program, “The Five.”
“Fox News has consistently dominated cable news in ratings in recent years, prevailing over its main competitors CNN and MSNBC. Carlson’s show repeatedly topped the network’s shows by exceeding multi-million total viewership,” The Daily Caller noted further.
Fox News itself has not explained its decision to move on from Carlson, though there has been much speculation.
“Carlson has told people he doesn’t know why he was terminated. According to the source, Scott refused to tell him how the decision was made; she only said that it was made ‘from above.’ Carlson has told people he believes his controversial show is being taken off the air because the Murdoch children intend to sell Fox News at some point,” Vanity Fair reported.
The New York Times, meanwhile, allegedly quoted “sources” who said Carlson rankled colleagues, was unpopular inside the Fox News world, and regularly touched on subjects like the Jan. 6 Capitol riot that made upper management uncomfortable.
Interestingly, Carlson and longtime CNN figure Don Lemon were both fired on the same day, within hours of each other. Both also have retained the same industry powerhouse lawyer in an expectation they will file legal action against their old employers.
“Neither host has announced a lawsuit or dispute against their employers. But the litigator they’ve retained — Bryan Freedman — has a record of helping TV hosts secure millions from their old networks. Former CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter reported that both Carlson and Lemon are retaining Freedman’s services, while The New York Times also wrote that Lemon had hired Freedman,” Business Insider reported on Tuesday.
— Bo Snerdley (@BoSnerdley) April 25, 2023
“Messy media breakups are a staple for Freedman, famed for aggressively representing a laundry list of the entertainment world’s most prominent figures. His clients include Vin Diesel, Quentin Tarantino, and Mariah Carey. Freedman previously worked to help former host Megyn Kelly secure around $30 million from NBC News after she parted ways with the network in 2019. Kelly was fired halfway through her three-year contract worth $69 million, but NBC agreed to pay her the remainder of her original salary,” the outlet added.
“In 2021, Freedman also represented longtime ‘The Bachelor’ host Chris Harrison, who reached a $10 million exit settlement with ABC after facing backlash over his comments on the show, per Variety,” Insider continued. “Chris Cuomo, the anchor fired by CNN in December 2021, also hired Freedman in his ongoing wrongful termination suit against the network for $125 million.”