For the past couple of years, Fox News host Sean Hannity has been the ratings king, dominating not only his fellow cable news competitors on rival networks, but also his fellow Fox anchors timeslots.
That all changed in the month of April, however, as Hannity fell from his top spot and ended up trailing in terms of viewership behind fellow primetime Fox colleague Tucker Carlson, the Washington Examiner reported.
Hannity falls behind Carlson
Based upon viewership numbers compiled by Neilsen Media Research, Hannity drew an average of 4.4 million viewers per night in the month of April, with an average of about 809,000 viewers in the key advertiser-targeted demographic of adults aged 25-54.
Incredibly, despite those numbers being Hannity’s second-highest monthly average ever, it failed to surpass the numbers of viewers drawn in by Carlson, who has the time slot right before Hannity and typically comes in a close second- or third-place behind him in terms of ratings.
In April, Carlson managed to draw an average of 4.6 million viewers per night, with approximately 885,000 in the key demographic.
Coronavirus briefings fuel ratings
Those numbers for both Hannity and Carlson are actually quite good, but they paled in comparison to the viewership garnered two of their other colleagues at Fox News — Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum — due in large part to President Donald Trump and the coronavirus.
Forbes reported that Baier’s Special Report program actually claimed the top spot in the cable news ratings battle for the month of April, with an average viewership of 5.3 million viewers, including an astonishing 1.1 million in the key demographic, according to the Examiner.
MacCallum, with her nightly program The Story, came in second with numbers that, while not as good as Baier’s, were nonetheless better than Carlson and Hannity.
To be sure, however, the surge in viewers had less to do with Baier and MacCallum themselves, and is almost certainly attributable to the fact that President Trump’s near-daily coronavirus task force briefings at the White House — which have enjoyed record-breaking viewership — would typically air during part or all of Baier and MacCallum’s time slots.
Ratings up across the board
In fact, The Hollywood Reporter noted that ratings and viewership were up across the board for all three cable news networks — Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC — in large part because so many Americans have been confined to their homes under lockdowns and quarantines.
Fox remained at the top of the ratings heap both in daytime and primetime viewers. MSNBC came in second in primetime, though that network slipped to third in the daytime behind a surprisingly resurgent CNN.
It will be interesting to see what happens with the monthly ratings battle next time, as many states have begun the process of relaxing virus-related restrictions, the task force briefings have become less frequent, and fewer people remain stuck at home with nothing but the TV to keep them entertained and informed.