Saturday Schadenfreude: Fox News Ratings Down 24% Since Last Summer

It is perhaps a sign of the times. As approval ratings for the Bush administration and the Republican Congress continue to be mired in the 30s and below, so too has the viewership at Fox News fallen. And fast.

In June, we learned that network chief Roger Ailes was "on the warpath," putting his employees on notice after following a 22 percent drop in the core 25-54 demo and an 8 percent drop among total viewers in the second quarter. Now, Linda Moss of Multichannel News (via TVNewser) reports that ratings at Fox News Channel are down even bigger this summer.

ESPN, Fox News Channel, Nick at Nite and Hallmark Channel all tied with a 1.3 rating. ESPN and Hallmark were each up 18% versus last summer, while Fox News and Nick at Nite were both down 24%. [emphasis added]

In a separate post, Brian at TVNewser reports that ratings at Fox News in August were down 7 percent all day and 28 percent in primetime from the previous August at the same time that both CNN and MSNBC showed significant gains in viewership.

I don't want to overstate these numbers. Fox News still receives more viewers, both all day and during primetime, than CNN and MSNBC -- comined. However, at the same time last year, Fox News had almost twice as many viewers as CNN and MSNBC combined, so they have not only seen their numbers but also an even larger drop in their lead over their competition.

So the era of Fox News' domination of cable news may be coming to an end. And I don't think I'm going to get any arguments from this crowd that that's not a good thing.

Tags: Fox News (all tags)

Comments

17 Comments

Don't forget Comedy Central

Considering how much of the Comedy Central daily schedule is made up of left-friendly political programming (Daily Show/Colbert block gets four airings/day), and that these shows often have cumes nearing a million, the percentage of rightwing spin is dropping precipitously.

by PBCliberal 2006-09-02 02:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Saturday Schadenfreude: Fox News Ratings Down

So the era of Fox News' domination of cable news may be coming to an end. And I don't think I'm going to get any arguments from this crowd that that's a good thing.

Forgot "not"

by adamterando 2006-09-02 02:32PM | 0 recs
(Comment Deleted)

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by heyAnita 2006-09-02 03:00PM | 0 recs
The truth has a liberal bias

Fox News did everyone a favor.

They experimented with a business model that combined The Fox NFL personality formula with news marketed as a fair and balanced journalism.

The experiment failed and no one with any sense can take it seriously.

The Fox News experiment may have been a failure but it helped re-establish the age old view that "The truth has a liberal bias."

by benji 2006-09-02 03:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Saturday Schadenfreude

When I got cable back in 1998 I watched Fox as couple of times and promptly removed it from my remote. Haven't seen it since.

I gradually stopped watching CNN and MSNBC since they  obviously push the Corporatist/NeoCon agenda too -- with the exception that I started watching Olberman's show when he came back from his baseball hiatus.

by Sitkah 2006-09-02 03:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Saturday Schadenfreude...

That's because CNN is the new lap dog of the administration...if you haven't noticed.

by goplies 2006-09-02 03:17PM | 0 recs
CNN as lapdog

Its also because, as McLuhan said, the medium is the message. As media ages and new media takes its place, the older media retains an older more conservative audience.

The success of Rush Limbaugh came as AM was dying in a day where AM-only radios still existed in older cars and pick-up trucks. Conservative talk radio worked (and saved AM radio) because the message resonated with a large percentage of the audience unable or unwilling to move to more modern media.

CNN's move to the right makes business sense, not only to appease the gods that grant them licenses, interviews, and tax breaks, but to appeal to the increasingly conservative cable television audience that remains when progressive opinion leaders move on to new media spaces (like MyDD).

I don't watch Nancy Grace, Glenn Beck, or Lou Dobbs not only because their shows are shallow, insipid pandering, but because I have a better way to stay informed asynchronously on the net. When I do watch MSM opinion, I tivo a show for a few weeks and then drop it.

When I can pretty much predict the story selection and the take a particular show will adopt, its time to move on. So far, I've been through Olbermann, Stewart, Colbert, Cooper, and Ferguson just in the last year.

I suspect I'm not the only member of the choir around here that consumes media this way. I further suspect in five years the concept of watching a whole show serially at the time it is broadcast will be a rare occurrence. Those who still do will be predominantly conservative, and cable news/talk will be slightly to the right of Michael Savage.

by PBCliberal 2006-09-02 04:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Saturday Schadenfreude...

If you read my comment more carefully, you'll realize that I noticed.

by Sitkah 2006-09-03 08:29AM | 0 recs
Positive trends in the media landscape

Nice to see...and maybe a shift that will continue.

The earlier expansion of Fox's audience presumably had several "amplifier" effects that may now become amplifiers in the opposite direction.  

One was the fact that, with more people watching Fox, there were probably larger numbers of additional people "influenced" by Fox viewers they talked to (especially in the pre-Katrina days and before things became so obviously out of control in Iraq).  

The second was the pressure Fox's prolonged and dramatic share growth put on other cable news outlets to compete with Fox, increasingly on Fox's mindless, jingoistic terms.

When I think of the recent "fascism" statement by Keith Olbermann and the "is Bush an idiot segment" by Joe Scarborough, I begin to wonder if the interaction of public attitudes and commercial motives could "amplify" a shift toward anti-Bush and pro-progressive messages, just as it amplified a pro-Bush shift over a number of years.  

I'm not especially hopeful regarding the constructive potential of cable or broadcast news, but it's nice to see this ratings trend and these moments of relative clarity emerging from the cable nets.  

Another positive trend, and one with arguably more long-term and netroots-friendly implications, is the rapid growth of online video platforms like YouTube, which as we all know, is being used more and more by sites like MyDD (e.g., for Adwatch), and represents a whole new form of "amplifier effect," and a fundamentally netroots-friendly shifts underway in the media landscape.

I sense the making of a progressive echo chamber that could have increasing influence on the mainstream media as the latter follows the "audience," which is becoming more undeniably progressive and anti-Bush and is spending more and more of its media-use time on the Internet.

Ailes is a smart and aggressive guy, but I'd venture that his dominance of news media trends will continue to decline.  As my wife the ex-cheerleader used to say...Push 'em back, push 'em back, waaayyy back!  Its about time....which reminds me of the importance of retaining a neutral Internet that can't be dominated by the likes of Fox (though they'll no doubt find ways to be major players (e.g., their MySpace acquisition)).

by mitchipd 2006-09-02 03:43PM | 0 recs
Schadenfreude: Fox Ratings Down
Personally, I almost prefer the honestly upfront bias of FoxNews to the cloying and desperate game of catch-up CNN and MSGOP have been playing for the last few years. I can't watch Hannity or O'Reilly, but I can't watch much else on cable TV news anymore, either.
The latter is particularly irritating, with Olberman as their token thinking person and Chris Matthews as their token "Democrat" to balance out Scarborough and Carlson. There again, though, I prefer Scarborough's honest partisanship to Mathews embarrassing man-crushes on pretty much every body with an "R" after their name. The Giuliani and McCain interviews threaten to be particularly painful.
And Carlson is just the latest flame-out in the NBC group's sad efforts to peel off Fox's audience--D. Miller, Alan Keyes, that awful Cosby woman.
Memo to whoever's in charge over there: Fox's seventy-plus audience is dying out.
by BlueinColorado 2006-09-02 03:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Saturday Schadenfreude: Fox News Ratings Down

The future of cable television news is clear.

Missing white brides.

by Taylor26 2006-09-02 04:54PM | 0 recs
While I agree that this is great...

...your use of the word "schadenfreude" is a little off. It would only be schadenfreude if we considered them friends or equals. They are neither! ;)

by bridgetdooley 2006-09-02 05:05PM | 0 recs
Re: While I agree that this is great...

Yes, I vaguely recall from studying German long ago, that it meant shameful or hurtful joy.  Can't really see the shameful or hurtful aspect of Fox News taking a hit (Deutsch scholars might correct my recollection).

by bhirsh26 2006-09-02 09:02PM | 0 recs
Re: While I agree that this is great...

It means being happy for the misery of someone else.

Literally: Damage-happy.

by Populism2008 2006-09-03 06:51AM | 0 recs
Re: While I agree that this is great...

No, it means specifically being happy for the misfortune of someone who is in your good favor. It's more nuanced a word than simply being happy for the misfortune of others.

by bridgetdooley 2006-09-05 08:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Saturday Schadenfreude: Fox News Ratings Down

i'm not all that surprised. their team is losing.

when a city's sports team is winning it's fun and fans are riding high. viewership goes up. when the team starts losing the bandwagon fans find something else to watch.

i've always thought a big part of fox news' appeal was it's republican bandwagon function.

by irene adler 2006-09-02 05:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Saturday Schadenfreude: Fox News Ratings Down

I think it's good in the sense that people are probably tiring of their propaganda and catching on.  In any other circumstance, though, CNN getting more viewers doesn't thrill me either. They are basically Fox Lite.

by steve expat 2006-09-02 06:59PM | 0 recs

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