Fox News channel ratings drop, why it’s permanent

By Leroy Cleveland, Polls and Trends - February 13, 2021

Fox News is in trouble.

The mainstream news source known for catering to a conservative audience has fallen into third place among US cable outlets, dropping behind CNN and MSNBC in Donald Trump’s final month in the White House.

In fact, January 2021 was Fox’s worst month for total day viewers and overall viewers since April 2000, per Nielsen Ratings.

CNN averaged 2.49 million weekly total viewers while MSNBC drew 1.93 million. Fox finished with just just 1.49 million, down 18 percent year-on-year.

Why is that so significant?

January was a HISTORIC month for news. We witnessed:

1. the riot / attempted coup d’état at the Capitol,
2. record surges in COVID-19 contractions and deaths
3. important vaccine updates,
4. the Georgia Senate runoffs and a transition of power in Congress’ upper chamber,
5. President Biden’s inauguration
6. a presidential impeachment and, of course,
7. ongoing multiple challenges, rumors and innuendo regarding the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election.

If Fox can’t do any better than No. 3 in a month fueled by political news and controversy, what does that say about the network’s future?

So, what’s happening?

Many followers of former President Donald Trump have graduated to more edgy, less honest news sources, none of which are mainstream.

Simply put, Fox News isn’t hardcore or conspiratorial enough for them anymore.

Keep in mind, during the past 5 years, Fox, despite being Trump’s mouthpiece, would occasionally temper the craziness and extremism with a dose of truth, much to the chagrin of the former president who had a love-hate relationship with the network.

Fox News is mainstream and can’t afford to repel advertisers who are conscientious about having their brand attached to controversial sources.

Fox can ill-afford to be too over-the-top.

With Fox’s demise, fringe news sources like Newsmax and One America News Network (OANN) will attain stronger audiences. The latter sources are more biased and hardcore and, because they aren’t so large and mainstream, are held to a lower standard and don’t rely on top-tier advertisers to earn revenue.

Fox’s descent may be slow, but it’ll be long-term. And while the network will likely remain the most popular conservative news source, it won’t be able to keep up with CNN and MSNBC going forward because so many of its viewers are switching to Newsmax and OANN. As a result, don’t expect to see an “undisputed champion” of so-called conservative news.

Strong supporters of former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Ben Sasse, Sen. Mitt Romney, Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Cheney will continue to watch Fox. However, those who prefer ex Rep. Steve King, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Sen. Josh Hawley and Sen. Ted Cruz will transition to other, less mainstream sources.

For all intense and purposes, Fox News appeals to the establishment wing of the Republican Party while fringe news sources are more amenable to the Trumper / Q’Anon faction.

Earlier this week, PollsAndTrends published the article, “Marjorie Taylor Greene poll: She’s more favorable than Rep. Cheney and Sen. McConnell among GOP voters?.”

… It tells you all you need to know about where the GOP is headed.


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