Turning off Fox: GOP ‘News’ Channel’s Ratings Are Down 21% Overall, 26% in Younger Demo

In year-to-year comparisons, the GOP’s Fox channel lost 21 percent of its overall viewership as well as over a quarter of younger viewers versus the same period last year.

A more remote possibility is that millions of Fox viewers — the average of whom is 65 — have simply died off.

According to TV Newser:

[The] network was down -21% in Total Viewers and down -26% in younger viewers compared to Sept. 2009 (Total Day, Mon-Sun)…

“The O’Reilly Factor” was the top program in cable news[*], averaging more than 2.8 million Total Viewers and 680,000 A250-54 demo viewers, but the show was down -12% (Total Viewers) and -21% (demo) compared to Sept. 09. “Hannity,” “Glenn Beck,” “Special Report” and “On the Record” rounded out the top five — but all shows were also down double digits compared to Sept. ’09.

Overall, FNC was the fourth most-watched network on cable, behind entertainment juggernauts USA and TNT, and sports leader ESPN, which has seen a boost from its coverage of “Monday Night Football.”

MSNBC experienced a slight uptick in ratings. The GE-owned channel remains the top rated legitimate news channel.*

Of course, one ratings report does not make a trend, and the next report on Fox will likely show a bump up reflecting millions of conservatives tuning into Fox to hear GOP spin on the midterm elections.

But if there is a trend, why is Fox losing viewers?

Perhaps part of the loss comes from the Turn Off Fox campaign, which encourages normal Americans to request that businesses like airports, hospitals and dry cleaners default to a non-propaganda channel on televisions in waiting rooms and other public spaces. According to the group’s mission statement:

We don’t have to let Fox’s attempts to stoke fear and hate shape our country’s politics and culture. It’s easy to turn off Fox News in our own homes — but when TVs in public places are tuned to Fox, that also spreads fear, division, and misinformation. Turn Off Fox is about ordinary people and small businesses working together to reduce Fox’s influence in their own communities and across the country.

A more remote possibility is that millions of Fox viewers have simply died off. As recently as 2008, the average age of Fox viewers was 65 years old. If the average is 65, that means hundreds of thousands of the network’s demographics were in much higher age brackets. Or were. But 21 percent is an enormous number to lose to viewer mortality.

Or here’s a hopeful alternative: Maybe the drop in audience is a result of viewers rejecting Fox’s barrage of race-baiting stories this summer — the nasty series of lies and smears against African Americans that the network covered incessantly in a concerted effort to gin up fear and hatred among the GOP-tea bagger base. Just last week, for example, the network’s star demagogue Glenn Beck did a story about a college-era trip to Africa by Chris Coons, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Delaware, with the too-clever-by-half title, “Coons in Africa.” Despite his high ratings, Beck produces relatively little revenue Fox because 296 of the channel’s advertisers have boycotted his show in the 14 months since he called Pres. Obama a racist.

Earlier in September, Fox analyst Newt Gingrich — one of five or so potential Republican candidates for president on the GOP’s in-house television network payroll — described Pres. Obama as an anti-colonial Kenyan. Earlier this summer, the network ran video of civil rights activist Shirley Sherrod that had been deceptively edited by pioneering new-media race-baiter Andrew Breitbart to make it appear she was a racist. Before that, Fox spotlighted a series of hatchet job videos produced by Breitbart’s acolyte James O’Keefe that appeared to show employees of ACORN, the poverty advocacy group, committing illegal acts. Even now, Fox continues to flog away at the New Black Panthers’ voter intimidation non-story, running and re-running video of a scary looking man outside a voting station — even though no voter ever came complained about being intimidated by him.

Fundamentally, it would be nice to think that millions of people have begun to see Fox for what it is: a race-baiting propaganda outlet for the Republican Party that disseminates political disinformation tricked out to appear to be “news.”

But, as noted, one report does not make a trend, so only time will tell.

Stay tuned.


  • Pingback: TV Ratings Down For Republican Tea Party’s “News” Channel | Features

  • Peter
    September 30, 2010 - 7:48 pm | Permalink

    I wouldn’t say that MSNBC is any more legitimate than FOX news. Both are ideologically oriented and neither so much report the news as try to spin it as much as possible to their viewpoint. I challenge you to watch both FOX and MSNBC when they are talking about the same point and see the different positions they take. If you would like unbiased news I think CNN or BBC are your best choices.

    • October 1, 2010 - 5:52 am | Permalink

      Peter, I know it’s popular these days to make an analogy that Fox and MSBNC are two sides of the same coin, but that is false.

      On Fox, the producers shape the content so that it always reflects well on conservatives and always puts liberals in a bad light. This is true in the daytime “news” segments they run, as well as the nighttime opinion shows. Criticism of Republicans by Fox hosts, analysts and newsreaders is not permitted. If an analyst criticizes a Republican — as Karl Rove did when he said (correctly, for once) that Christine O’Donnell did not have sufficient “rectitude” to be a senator — then he must come on the next day and take it back.

      Shaping content to fit a preconceived ideological narrative is propaganda.

      Conversely, if you tune into MSNBC during the day, you will hear news presented as down-the-middle as on CNN or BBC or any other legit journalistic organization. At night, you will hear liberal opinion, but it is always grounded in journalistically tested facts.

      You will also hear something on MSNBC at night that you will never hear on Fox: Hosts and analysts criticizing both Republicans and Democrats, including Pres. Obama and the congressional leaders. That is not propaganda.

  • September 30, 2010 - 9:54 pm | Permalink

    I know it’s not their fault, but really, they need a different name for their magazine. You can’t look at that url and not see ‘penis to review’ for a second.

    • October 1, 2010 - 5:38 am | Permalink

      Your moniker is “Piter” and you say Pensito reminds people of penises. You must not be from the South. Ironically, I guess, “pensito” means “to think. “

  • Nathan
    October 1, 2010 - 1:24 am | Permalink

    Fox is equivalent to an evil National Enquirer.

    I suspect that their fan base knows that most of Fox “news” stories/opinions are only based on select parts of the complete picture, or half-truths. The facts are easy enough to refute.

    My opinion is that their fan base has chosen to watch it anyway because it re-enforces/confirms their bad feelings about the Democrats, while distracting them from the fact they supported and continue to support a party and ideas that nearly destroyed America.

    I suspect that plan is to feed the egos of their fan base these “news” stories that trigger emotional responses while painting the rich and corporations as the victims so that ultimately they gather enough voters to elect the representatives that will continue to protect their wealth.

  • William
    October 1, 2010 - 1:31 am | Permalink

    Fox News seems to tell a story from the perspective of the wealthiest or the disillusioned, while MSNBC tells the same story from the perspective of the common person.

    Fox viewers are mostly faith-based; MSNBC viewers are more fact-based.

  • V. V. Williams
    October 1, 2010 - 2:30 am | Permalink

    It riles me no end to be barraged by Fox b.s. every time I sit down at a gate at a US airport. For a couple years now, I go to the podium and complain — requesting at the very least a reduction in volume. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. I recommend the step to everyone. If enough of us complain directly at airports, maybe something will change.

  • QuadSlacker
    October 1, 2010 - 3:13 am | Permalink

    …or perhaps more Americans are simply watching less television?

    In any case, it’s a positive development.

  • Warren Cosford
    October 1, 2010 - 11:47 am | Permalink

    The Power of Nightmares was produced by the BBC in 2004 and has been broadcast and received wide distribution through most of the rest of the Free World. As far as I know, it has never been shown either over the air or on cable in the U.S.

    I hope you will pass it onto as many people you know in the U.S. as you can….. because it helps to explain what has been happening to America…..and why. The Neo Cons have most of the MSM in their pockets. Those of us seeking The Truth only have The ‘Net. For now.

    This is what it is about:

    Watch it here

  • wendy
    October 3, 2010 - 3:07 pm | Permalink

    I know, as for me, I do not want to hear Fox’s propaganda. I wish I could get news from other countries to see how we look from a different point of view.

  • Gail G
    October 3, 2010 - 3:22 pm | Permalink

    The reason ratings are down you nuts is because there are more channels and options to watch. This is really an insane column.

    • October 4, 2010 - 6:12 am | Permalink

      Gail G – That’s simply not true. There are not substantially more channels on cable today than there were 12 months ago — if anything there are fewer. That sounds like antifactual propaganda from Fox.

  • DownriverDem
    October 3, 2010 - 8:36 pm | Permalink

    I live near the Canadian border and can get the CBC network on tv. They do give a different slant. Our so called news has melted into infotainment starting with when they made news a for profit format.

  • Rosa
    October 4, 2010 - 12:29 pm | Permalink

    How many of those viewers being turned off are Hispanics, I wonder? Blacks only make up less than 2% of Fox’s audience. I don’t know how many Latino viewers they have, but my sister, who is our family’s only right-winger, has now stopped watching Fox due to their constant anti-immigration rantings. I might actually start liking those teabaggers at the rate they’re going. The GOP was all about wooing Hispanics the last few election cycles. Well, they lost the black vote for generations back in 1964 by all voting against the Civil Rights Act. With we Hispanics being the largest growing minority now, they’ll be up caca creek if they do the same to us. Between African-Americans and Latinos, they’ll have alienated almost a third of the voting bloc. Way to go, pendejos.

  • LegalCalifornian
    October 4, 2010 - 10:01 pm | Permalink

    Um, hispanics may be the largest growing minority but you can’t exactly vote if you’re not legal. Better pray for nationwide amnesty… and the fact that you’re using Spanish curse words in place of English ones makes me question your legality too. Regardless, mexicans should try to clean up their corrupt government before they sneak over here to clean up our toilets. You should listen to John and Ken (KFI AM 640) sometime and really hear about how horrible this illegal immigration plague is for all of the southwest, especially California. Illegal alien roundup anyone? Yeehaw!

    • Madison
      October 5, 2010 - 6:09 am | Permalink

      LegalCalifornian – you should stop listening to right-wing propaganda and get the facts. Americans whose American ancestors are Latino are the largest American minority group. Because they are Americans who were born here — and whose parents, grandparents and even great-great-great-grandparents were born here — they are as eligible to vote as any other American, including yourself — and you should thank liberals who got rid of the literacy test many years ago for the fact that Americans as ignorant as you are allowed to vote. (The rest of us are not so grateful because it’s ignoramuses like you who voted in George Bush twice and who would vote in George-Bush-in-a-skirt Sarah Palin, if you had the chance.)

      It’s people like you who are driving American Latinos into the Democratic Party, which is also having the effect of collapsing the Republican Party, especially in California. So, as a California Democrat, I say “keep up the hate.” Latinos are welcome in the Democratic Party. (Ignoramuses need not apply.)

  • Rosa
    October 5, 2010 - 9:17 am | Permalink

    Amen, Madison. LegalCalifornian, you GOPers need little brown people to vote for you more than ever. We Hispanics voted for Obama by almost 70%. American Jews, Oriental-Americans and Arab-Americans by the same margins. Blacks by 96%. The youth vote by over 66%. Over 40% of people under 18 are Hispanic. It fries your fritters, doesn’t it? But, face it, you little bigoted swine. Your party’s racism is it’s death knell. Go ahead. Hate us all you want. It’ll just drive us into the arms of the Dems and leave your party with nothing but a strained minority pulp of neo-Nazi haters. Don’t want us, cabron? Fine. We’ll take our votes elsewhere like we did in 2008. 2010 might be a good year for you. But, the writing is on the wall for you dinosaurs. The GOP base–consisting mostly of pre-Civil Rights, segregetionist, Southern, mostly over-65 voters–are going to be dying out or doddering in nursing homes over the next 10-15 years. 50% of Americans are tolerant of gay marriage, 80% among those under 35. Abortion isn’t a hot topic at all for those under that age either. Your hot button issues won’t resonate at all with a new generation of Americans, your hate will have alienated a whole bloc of the voting population, and a large slice of the GOPs voting base will be dying off or dead. Republicans–with their race-baiting and reproductive repression–will have sent a large majority of voters to the Dem side while they shriek to young, white, brown, and black voters about racism and gay marriage. Yeehaw, numbnuts!

    • Madison
      October 5, 2010 - 10:52 am | Permalink

      Rosa – I second everything you said!

  • October 6, 2010 - 2:47 pm | Permalink

    The fact that the right-wing Fox “news” channel’s audience is older than that of any other network — broadcast or cable — is a revelation that will sink the network in the long run.

    That older demographic is the generation most resistant to abortion rights for women and marriage for gay and lesbian couples. They will never change their minds on those two issues.

    But as that demographic passes away, Fox will be forced to make serius changes inthe way it presents the news — or else it will die along with its viewers. And, lst we forget, Rupert Murdoch himself is up there in years; at 78, Murdoch’s time as today’s William Randolph Hearst will inexorably come to close in the not-too-distant future.

  • Conservative
    October 14, 2010 - 7:33 pm | Permalink

    MSNBC legitimate, are you freaking serious. That channel as well as this blog and most of the opinions on it are full of sh#t. You libs continue to try and make excuses as to why your so-called news channel and party are going down the tubes. You truly know you are the ones who are dying and that is a fact.

    • October 15, 2010 - 11:22 am | Permalink

      Yes, Conservative, we’re freaking serious that MSNBC is legit. Their opinion shows criticize both left and right, Dems and Republicans. Fox hosts do not. MSNBC reports the news based on the facts of the story. Fox produces content based on political narratives that benefit the GOP. That’s propaganda.

      The fact is Fox’s ratings are dropping. That’s the truth you can’t handle.

  • lharden
    June 10, 2011 - 1:59 am | Permalink

    Single Payer is coming. Anything short of it will bankrupt America. You can’t allow only the rich to have health care. Your healthcare cannot be a condition of empoyment. That’s a fact. GET READY”’ Wee

  • Mike
    October 27, 2011 - 7:23 pm | Permalink

    You useful idiots never seem to amaze me. Wake up and see that both sides are playing you and that big government is the problem in this country, not hard working Americans. If someone works their ass off to make it in this country, please don’t call them evil rich people. Stop blaming hard wokring people for being successful and get off your ass; become the rich person you so envy.

  • Mike
    October 27, 2011 - 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and MSNBC is garbage television. I’ve been watching three channels for a month straight and MSNBC is by far the worst crap I have ever seen. Seriously? Al “race baitor” Shapton? Sad.

  • Mike
    October 27, 2011 - 7:34 pm | Permalink

    Rosa-Everything you said explains the Democratic party perfectly. One day you will figure out you are being played and oppressed more and more every year from your own party. Get rid of these stupid party lines and wake up to the politicians destroying our country. Oh, and the minorities are the liberals bread and butter vote. They know they have it, so they don’t care what you want.

  • March 13, 2013 - 1:20 am | Permalink

    The trouble is that for the GOP to survive, Republican candidates eventually have to get votes. When they fail, Fox gets to keep on printing money.

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