Viewers Continue To Flee Fox News as Ratings Drop for a Second Straight Year

While CNN and MSNBC both saw their ratings grow in 2011, Fox News saw their ratings drop by 3% for the second straight year.

According to the Pew Research Center’s Project For Excellence in Journalism’s The State of the News Media 2012 report, viewership for all cable news was up 1% in daytime and 1% in primetime. CNN saw their ratings rise by 16%. Despite the loss of Keith Olbermann, MSNBC’s prime time audience grew by 3%. The network’s daytime audience was up 20%. The ratings surge at CNN was a temporary blip caused by the tsunami in Japan and the Arab Spring. Without breaking news, CNN sinks to third place.

Fox News continues to lose viewers, but remains highly profitable. How can a network lose viewers, but increase profits? The answer is that Fox News demands the highest licensing fee from carriers in all of cable news. All subscribers pay an additional seventy eight cents a month to have Fox News carried on their system. This was an 11% increase in 2011 and one of the main reasons why Fox News can lose viewers, but set a record for profits.

Even if you never watch Fox News, as long as it is carried by your cable or satellite system, you are still adding to Rupert Murdoch’s fortune. If people really want to stop Fox News, they need to be pushing Congress to pass a la cart legislation that will allow viewers to pick and choose the networks that they want to pay for instead of being forced to subsidize channels that they can’t stand.

There are three warning signs on the road ahead for Fox News. It is likely that Fox News will continue to lose viewers in the future because they have the oldest audience on television. The average age of a Fox News viewer is 65 years old. Younger people aren’t replacing the older viewers that the network is losing on a yearly basis, which means that if things stay as they are, the network is fighting a losing battle against Father Time.

The Internet is also posing a big threat to Fox News’s bottom line. A 2011 study by Credit Suisse, found that 25% of cable/satellite customers plan to cancel their service in the next five years. Subscribers are threatening to cancel because they are realizing that they can get much of the programming that they receive on their televisions right now on the Internet for less. If 25% of subscribers canceled, it would be a big blow to all three cable news networks, but it would hurt Fox News the most.

The biggest dilemma facing Fox News is a problem that they created for themselves. After years of moving to the hard right and making inflammatory rhetoric a staple of their programming, Roger Ailes is trying to move the network back to the middle. The problem is that the core part of the network’s audience still resides on the far right. To put this in political terms, Fox News wants to be Mitt Romney, but their audience craves Rick Santorum.

The far right audience may not react well to the new moderate Fox News. In fact, the door may be opening for a bit of competition for the conservative viewership. The same battle that is playing out for control of the Republican Party among the far right and the party establishment could replicate itself on the cable news landscape.

There are only 1.9 million daily Fox News viewers, but Fox News is available in 102 million homes. This means that 100 million American households are subsidizing the right wing hate of Fox News. If the American people ever wake up and realize that they are paying for a network that many of them disagree with, and demand to be given the ability to financially support only the channels that they watch, the future of Fox News will be in doubt.

30 Replies to “Viewers Continue To Flee Fox News as Ratings Drop for a Second Straight Year”

  1. This is good news. Now is the time to step it up. I am one of those that have no choice but to have Murdoch’s filth included in my cable “package” (Faux is not programmed into my remote). I will be writing my cable company to object to subsidizing Rupert Murdoch. Suggest others do the same.

  2. …”to stop Fox News, they need to be pushing Congress to pass a la cart legislation that will allow viewers to pick and choose the networks that they want to pay for instead of being forced to subsidize channels that they can’t stand…”

    Why as I recall, one Sen McCain proposed this very legislation back in the late 90’s (?)and was working very hard to get the cable companies to offer a la cart bundling-packaged shows as an alternative…I did make the effort to complain to the local (national monopoly) provider about their one-sided religious channels being “favored”; the rep told me “Well, if we got request for more German channels, we’d air them”…Whaaat? I dropped cable on the spot…

    Also, I recall, Senator McCain ALSO did not like the fact that cable companies were providing an outlet for several “religious/christian” channels “free” on basic cable. He wanted them on a separate package so those who wanted it would have to pay for it, just like those who want to buy a “porno” package (the porno thing is speculative as to whether he made that kind of comparison, but, ya’ know…).

    Maybe it’s time to demand not only a la cart, but that all religious channels be packaged and sold…you know, “privatize” religious media.

  3. Good points… but remember, Fox News isn’t simply right-wing… More than anything they appear to be a front for the military industrial complex… You’ll notice that they attack Obama and Democrats on a lot of issues… but never wars or executive power grabs that move powers and sovereignty away from the Congress and the American people….

    So remember… If people one day call for a boycott of Fox News… it doesn’t necessarily mean that the Liberals and Democrats have all the answers, and/or that they are playing their audiece fairly…

    Seems to me that we have, progressive Internationalists in both parties who use the GOP or DNC label as a cloak to push their selfish interests…

    Until the people realize how they’re being divided and conquered… we’re never going to get the kind of “progress” that the vast majority of us could support or endorse.

  4. With Fox and Friends, O’rielly, Hannity and booting the Judge, the pro Romney, not reporting real world news, Obama’s illegitamicy, Israel’s wielding of influence and power, what’s really going on in Afghanistan …
    I’m hearing more interesting news from Rachael, RT and other online media. FOX SUX

  5. ok, so 1.9 million out of 100 million. Good. Now, if there was just a way to get the stuff we want and freeze them out. Will have to keep tabs on the efforts to make them offer us a cafeteria menu type package. I’d looove that. I must have hundreds of channels I never look at.

  6. At risk of exposing my abysmal ignorance on the subject–well, hell, soon as you read my question you’ll know I am clueless, so forget that.

    Why would it take an act of Congress for a new, competing company to offer an a la carte programing format? What obstacles would it face, and why? Last I heard, the anti-monopoly laws were still on the books; they simply haven’t been enforced since the day of Ronald the Great. If so, why not?

    Now, I know this issue is far more complex than I can even begin to imagine, given my non-existent knowledge of the subject. All I’m trying to say here is that I cannot understand the entirety of even the forces at work unless they are explained to me in depth and documented in detail.

    In short, could one of the knowledgeable writers here on Politicusa please explain how media marketing and bundling–as well as bunches of stuff I don’t have a clue about– works?

  7. Even if the Fox demographic is populated by folks in their 60’s, there are just as many in that age bracket watching MSNBC who are NOT Fox fans. There is really no reason to paint all seniors with the same brush when a quick look back in time will recall the liberal movement of the 1960’s demanding equality for minorities and women. We didn’t all die off or convert to right-winger insanity. The angry right-wing crowd in my city are more in the 30’s and 40’s bracket and what many of them have in common is a lack of education and a truck with a gun rack.

  8. 1.9 million out of 300+ Million and Like it says MOST are over the age of 65! No surprise there! I Know because I’m labeled as a Young Person even though I’m 29 years old and MOST of US So called Young Viewers don’t Watch MainStream Media Because it is ALL Just Lies and Propaganda to Push the Governments AGENDA! Need I Say More?

  9. I have a friend who travels a lot and at every hotel or motel blocks Fox News on the television. I absolutely love her for this.

  10. “I absolutely love her for this.”

    I absolutely love you, Ester Williams, for loving her for this. block Fox.

  11. CNN is gaining ground, which makes sense. It reinforces all the same right-wing propaganda without all the same “crazy” to go with it. It’s FOX for self-deluded right-wingers who think they see the bigger picture.

  12. Unfortunately, I think you are very correct. Faux/the right are the obvious targets because they are so openly arrogant and hateful, but that doesn’t automatically mean the guys on the other side are necessarily any better.

    Hitler promoted Socialism, not because he cared about people’s welfare, but because he knew people would support him if he did this. It was a tool, a method of control, a means to an end. Bad people can twist good ideas to get what they want…

  13. I find it a little funny that the bias of this article is against a company that they feel is so biased and therefore must be taken down. Besides a few figures that they don’t understand, saying how many people are getting rid of cable because they get their news from the net and it will hurt all cable news but especially Fox makes little sense because if the average age of their viewers is 65, they are the least likely to change their ways and go to the internet, so the industry may hurt, but they will lose less than the others with a younger demographic except if their people die.

    It is also funny to me to hear so many not wanting to pay for a channel they don’t want, but are the same people who thought it ridiculous that Catholic run hospitals and institutions were complaining about being forced to provide contraception (against their beliefs) when they didn’t want to. Basically there is a much simpler solution if you don’t like or want to watch Fox news which I think most of you already follow, DON’T WATCH IT.

    I personally take in my news from all sources, understanding which way their bias leans (they all lean one way or another nowadays) and then find the middle to figure out the truth and make my own decisions. Much easier as an independent who really doesn’t like or trust either party. As much as all of you hate FOX, remember Hilary said during the last election that the place she was treated the best and most fairly was Fox News.

    I thought as liberals you believe in freedom of choice and giving everyone the equal opportunity to express their views. If that is true, you don’t have to like or listen to Fox News, but you should honor their right to exist.

  14. “IF” they die? Do you know something we don’t know? (I suspected it all along, Fox News viewers were ‘pod people’!!!!)

  15. Attention, Boscoe: Hitler was NOT a Socialist. A type of socialism had originally been part of the platform, but Hitler was installed in power by the equivalent of the military-indudtrial complex, and when members of his own party complained about the betrayal, he killed them: most on the Night og the Long Knives, and the rest when he took over countries where they had sought asylum.

  16. I hope everybody realizes that going after Fox News is not going to stop the problem that is Fox and Rupert Murdoch. ALL of his channels need to be boycotted! That especially includes FX, which everybody seems to give a free pass to. Fox News could have zero viewers and it will still be on the air because Rupert will use his other networks to subsidize it.

  17. I don’t like Fox News but watching their viewership decline isn’t the answer. I just really wish that they, and all news carriers, would broadcast correct information and that they wouldn’t lie to us. I grew up believing that we could get the truth from the news. Now I have to search for it and fact-check it.

  18. It’s good to see MSNBC ratings going up, if slightly. I am always amazed at the false equivalency posed by right-wingers that MSNBC is just like Fox, only on the liberal side.

    Actually, unlike Fox, I see lots of conservatives on MSNBC, and hosts are always talking about how they are asking conservative newsmakers to come on, but never get any response, or they get turned down flat.

    While it may still have biases, there is no Fox comparison.

    Additionally, MSNBC’s anchors and pundits tend to look a lot more like the America I live in: women, men, white, black, Hispanic, LGBT, etc.

  19. Lots of info I did not know but get my fux news from Media Matters !

    The kurdock/fux hold on the cable companies needs to be broken if only 1.9m watch but they are mandated to be part of the package!

  20. CNN’s fall does not surprize me. John King is very boring – too statisticical. They try to make it as though it’s an riveting competition, but it’s nothing more than TV “programming” for CNN – which has little interest to average Americans longing for real news.

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