Report hints at trouble for Fox as network seeks to maintain top spot in ratings post-Trump

Fox News has long sat at the top of the leaderboard when it comes to cable news ratings — but a new report suggests the conservative network’s reign at the top may be coming to an untimely end.

The Daily Beast’s Justin Baragona wrote in a piece published Saturday that it isn’t just CNN and MSNBC who are faltering in the ratings in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency. “Fox News has also suffered a precipitous drop in its viewership,” Baragona noted, revealing terrible news for the network known for headlining hosts like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson.

Crunching the numbers

It’s no secret that news networks saw a major boost in the ratings in the weeks immediately following last November’s much-anticipated presidential election. Between questions of election integrity and a riot at the U.S. Capitol, interest in news and politics was at something of a record high last fall.

But as Baragona notes, “ratings have tumbled across the board as interest in politics has waned.”

The Daily Beast writer explains:

During the month of January, for instance, CNN enjoyed its most-watched month yet, drawing a daily average of 1.907 million total viewers and a total primetime audience of 2.737 million. At the same time, during that same month, Fox News finished third in cable-news ratings for the first time in 20 years, averaging 1.374 million viewers in total day and 2.621 million in primetime.

Baragona adds: “MSNBC, for its part, was second across the board that month, drawing 1.662 million viewers per day and 2.658 million in primetime.”

Decline in viewership

But while Fox was quick to reclaim its top spot, Baragona notes a trend that could spell trouble for Fox looking forward: While CNN and MSNBC saw heavily inflated ratings post-election, Fox “actually suffered a year-to-year drop in viewership,” he said.

Baragona explained that while MSNBC “saw double-digit year-to-year growth” and “CNN nearly tripled its viewership in the key 25-54 demographic” from 2020 to 2021, Fox “suffered declines throughout, experiencing a 20[%] drop in total day viewership and losing 14[%] in total primetime audience compared to January 2020.”

In the 25-54 age range, Fox’s viewership fell double-digits in 2021 compared to 2020, the Daily Beast reporter added.

Looking to the future

Looking at the first half of 2021 as a whole, it’s clear that Fox is still doing OK, with the network ranking first for daytime and primetime TV from January to June of this year, according to data cited by USA Today.

Fox’s top programs, Tucker Carlson Tonight and Hannity, were also “the second quarter’s most-watched cable shows,” USA Today notes.

But that doesn’t mean Fox can breathe a sigh of relief just yet. If the latest reports are true, and things don’t change soon, their longstanding reign as the leader in cable news may just be on the verge of collapse.

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