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.
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.