Younger viewers continue to tune out Fox News as the network’s ratings for the month of August hit their lowest level since 2001.
Fox News remains the overall ratings leader by a wide margin, but young viewers are tuning out the conservative network in record numbers.
According to TVNewser:
Compared to August 2012, Fox News was down -10% in total viewers and -24% in the A25-54 demographic in total day. In primetime, the network was down -15% and -24%, respectively. The network was down in both total viewers and the A25-54 demographic in every hour of programming from 9am-11pmET, except for “The Five,” which was flat in total viewers and down -25% in the demo.
“The O’Reilly Factor,” “Hannity” and “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren” were down for the month compared to August 2012: Bill O’Reilly’s program was down -9% in total viewers and -25% in the demo, while Sean Hannity’s show was down -21% in total viewers and -26% in the demo. “On the Record” was down -20% in both ratings measurements.
Fox News has been bleeding younger viewers for the years, but has been able to stay number one because their older audience is extremely loyal. So far Fox has been able to beat back the inevitable march of time, but their recent schedule shakeups suggest that Fox News execs are getting a little nervous.
If you want to know why Sean Hannity got bounced from the coveted 9 PM slot behind Bill O’Reilly the answer is that 42% of Hannity viewers are senior citizens. The move of Megyn Kelly to nine is an attempt by Fox News to attract younger viewers to their crypt like primetime line up.
The hiring of Elizabeth Hasselbeck for Fox and Friends was done for the same reason, and it gave the network the added bonus of moving Gretchen Carlson into the afternoon. All of these moves were made because Fox News knows that it can’t keep dominating the ratings forever if their viewership continues to get older.
Younger viewers (age 25-54) are avoiding Fox News like the plague. The reason why younger viewers don’t watch Fox mirrors the struggles of the Republican Party. Instead of embracing issues that matter to younger people, Fox News and the Republican Party have taken positions of opposition. It doesn’t matter how young the Fox News on air talent gets, as long as they cater to the old while male base of the Republican Party, younger people will not tune in.
Fox News is trapped between pleasing the old audience that keeps them number one, and fighting a demographic battle that they are destined to lose.
Beneath the high ratings there are some serious problems brewing at Fox News. Roger Ailes may win the battles against CNN and MSNBC, but he can’t beat Father Time.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and 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