Fox News saw a significant drop in ratings during the 8 PM hour last week after prime-time host Tucker Carlson was released.
In contrast, conservative cable rival Newsmax is benefiting from the shift in viewership.
Nightly viewership dropped by more than 1 million viewers
Carlson brought in an average of over 3 million viewers per night during his final week in the time slot from April 17-21.
However, last week, the network’s viewership dipped to an average of only 1.65 million viewers per night without him.
Brian Kilmeade, co-host of “Fox & Friends,” filled in temporarily, and Lawrence Jones, a Fox News personality, will fill in this week.
‘Fox & Friends’ viewership down by 56 percent
On Wednesday, the difference was most pronounced, with Kilmeade’s 8 PM hour attracting an average of 1.3 million total viewers, a 56 percent decline compared to Carlson’s 3 million viewers the previous week.
Overall, Fox News experienced a 45 percent viewership decline last week without Carlson.
Fox News’s temporary plan to cover Carlson’s slot
When announcing Carlson’s departure on April 24, Fox News stated that “rotating Fox News personalities” would fill the 8 PM slot until a permanent host has been chosen.
The network followed a similar approach with the 7 PM hour after anchor Martha MacCallum left, ultimately selecting Jesse Watters as the permanent host.
Jesse Watters is a strong candidate to replace Carlson
“Jesse Watters Primetime” has been a significant success for Fox News, and Watters is considered a potential candidate for Carlson’s former time slot.
Despite the drop in viewership, the network has remained composed.
Fox News issues statement in the wake of struggles
In a statement, Fox News emphasized its leading position in cable news, saying, “Attracting more than 50 percent of the cable news viewing audience with the top 12 programs in cable news, Fox News’ powerhouse team of journalists, analysts, and opinion hosts are trusted more by viewers than any other news source.”
Fox News continues to maintain a strong lead over competitors MSNBC and CNN.
In the past, the network recovered from short-term declines, such as the dip after Bill O’Reilly’s departure in 2017.
Carlson’s show was the most-watched in all of cable news in 2021, and “The Five,” a 5 PM panel show, was the network’s most-watched show in 2022.
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Newsmax benefits greatly from Fox News’s ratings dip
Conversely, Newsmax experienced a ratings boost last week. On the day Carlson was fired, the 8 PM show hosted by former Fox News host Eric Bolling attracted 531,000 total viewers, only about 200,000 behind CNN’s 8 PM hour.
Bolling’s show reached 562,000 viewers on Tuesday night, five times as many as the same night a week prior, before dipping to 456,000 on Thursday.
Newsmax has been capitalizing on the post-Carlson increase in viewership, emphasizing the network’s programming and growing reach.
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‘Millions of viewers’ move from Fox News to Newsmax
Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy said on April 24, “Millions of viewers who liked the old Fox News have made the switch to Newsmax, and this will only fuel that trend.”
The network also reported that its streaming platforms experienced a boost last week.
Though Fox News has not commented on Newsmax’s claims, internal emails from the now-settled Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit revealed that Fox executives and hosts, including Carlson, were concerned about Newsmax’s potential as a growing news source.
In a text message to a producer, Carlson stated, “With Trump behind it, an alternative like Newsmax could be devastating to us.”
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