Fox News numbers good – not great – in NY election coverage

Posted: April 20, 2016 in Uncategorized

Fox News finished first among the cable news channels  – as it usually does – in the ratings for their prime time coverage of the New York primary April 19.  According to TV Newser, Fox was tops in overall audience in both the 8 pm to 11 pm slot, and the coverage that went all the way to midnight Eastern Time. Fox had about three million viewers, which is about what they would get if they ran their normal lineup that includes Bill O’Reilly, who has the most popular show on cable news.

CNN finished well ahead in the 25-54 demo, 919,000 to 600,000, in the 8-11 pm slot. CNN had 2.7 million viewers total, ahead of its average nightly audience.  MSNBC had a total audience of 1.7 million, which is well ahead of its nightly average. MSNBC’s demo audience, about 500,000 wasn’t far behind Fox News. And that doesn’t happen all that often.

This has been a very good election cycle – in both ratings and revenue – for all three cable news channels. It has been life-saving for MSNBC (owned by NBC Universal), and has given CNN (a Time Warner company) an opportunity to again be in the same conversation with Fox News.  Fox News, the NewsCorp-owned channel, run since its creation 20 years ago by Roger Ailes, has been the top rated news channel for 15 years. They’ve had monster ratings for debates, but the audience seems to be a bit restive, torn between the GOP mainstream messaging and the Trump insurgence.

The fact that Fox News has only about two-thirds of the 25-54 audience that CNN gets – for any programming – has to be a bit of a concern to the Fox execs.  It’s easy enough to say the Fox News audience is getting old. The numbers seem to confirm that notion.  MSNBC calls itself “The Place for Politics.”  They are still more liberal than conservative, or even moderate. But it appears they’re investing a whole lot of news reporting money in this election cycle and it is paying off.

More viewership for all channels is a good thing.  The fact that CNN and MSNBC are not getting slapped around by Fox News is probably a good thing for the diversity of media messaging.

Way back in 2014 there were plenty of news reports about the news channels and their struggle to find an audience. CNN and MSNBC continued to slip at that time, and Fox News was not growing.  We’ve seen plenty of speculation that Fox News’s Megyn Kelly may leave when her contract is up some time next year.  Fox News can’t afford to let her go, but her ambition might be too great to keep playing second fiddle to the oft-times overbearing and bullying O’Reilly.  There’s also been plenty of speculation in the media reporting circles that Rupert Murdoch’s sons, James and Lachlan, aren’t nearly as happy with Roger Ailes as dad is. The sons are being handed the keys to the NewsCorp kingdom, slowly but apparently surely.

In front of the camera and behind it, this has been fun to watch.  It’s a TV show that is sure to be highly rated all the way through the first Tuesday in November.  For three cable news channels, it’s money in the bank.  Who knows what 2017 brings.







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