Fox News lost 34% of their young primetime viewers during the first quarter of 2013, but over at MSNBC, Rachel Maddow’s young viewership continues to grow.
Fox News continues to be overall cable news ratings leader, but young people can’t seem to run from the network’s primetime lineup fast enough. According to TVNewser, “‘The O’Reilly Factor’ is flat in Total Viewers and down -26% in the demo. (Note: percentages are based on a blend of Live +7 and Live +3 data.) ‘Hannity’ is down -5% and -28%, while ‘On the Record” is down -13% and -35%, respectively.'” (This is once again a reminder of just how totally screwed Fox News would be without Bill O’Reilly. Bill-O is carrying Fox’s primetime lineup.)
Over at MSNBC, the picture was quite different. If you want to know why Ed Schultz was pushed out of primetime, the answer can be found in the fact that The Ed Show was down 11% in total viewers, and 4% with viewers age 25-54. If you want to know where some of those younger viewers who have turned off Fox News have ended up, a good guess might be The Rachel Maddow Show. Despite being down 3% in total viewers, Madow is up 5% with viewers age 25-54. ”The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” was up +2% total viewers and flat with younger viewers age 25-54.
Younger viewers (as defined by the ratings as viewers age 25-54) aren’t into the Fox News style of broadcasting. They are more about the irony and quirkiness that can be found on both Maddow’s show and Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. There is also a generational element to this shift as well. Bill O’Reilly is 63. Greta Van Susteren is 58. Sean Hannity is 51. Those Fox News anchors are too busy playing to their older audience to even bother with thinking about younger viewers.
Rachel Maddow is 40. Lawrence O’Donnell is 61, and Chris Hayes is 34. Except for O’Donnell, who has been making noises about missing Hollywood, the MSNBC lineup is much younger than what Fox News is offering. The MSNBC lineup is likely to get even younger as sometime over the next few years O’Donnell will probably return to the entertainment world, and the 10 PM slot will be occupied by a younger anchor.
In this case, MSNBC literally has time on their side. Younger viewers are regularly tuning out Fox News, because Fox doesn’t resonate with them. Some of these former Fox News viewers are likely turning to the Internet, but it is a pretty safe bet that some of them are migrating over to Rachel Maddow.
There is a reason why Maddow is growing while Fox News is shrinking. It has a lot to with how America is changing, and what the country is becoming. Right now, Rachel Maddow and MSNBC are more in touch with those shifts and changes than the powers that be at Fox News.
Like the Republican Party they champion, sooner or later, Fox News is going to have to retool. The old Fox News ratings horse is still leading the pack, but it laboring more and more to get around the track. It is inevitable that sooner or later, they will be caught and passed by the young fresh voices of the next generation.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association