For the second time this year MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has defeated Fox News in the coveted age 25-54 demographic, while Chris Matthews also defeated Fox News with younger viewers at 7 PM.
Maddow’s win wasn’t much of a surprise. Her coverage of Chris Christie and Bridgegate has led to a resurgence in her ratings with younger viewers. For the week, Madddow’s show averaged 341,000 viewers age 25-34, while Fox News’ The Kelly File averaged 335,000 viewers. Maddow also defeated Fox News for an entire week in January as well. The big surprise came with Chris Matthews beating Fox’s On The Record. For the week Matthews averaged 285,000 younger viewers, and Greta Van Sustern averaged 282,000. Matthews delivered the first win for MSNBC against Fox News since the 2012 Democratic convention in Charlotte.
Fox News’ big primetime lineup shakeup that was designed to attract younger viewers is looking like a bigger and bigger flop as the weeks go by. Fox just can’t young people to watch their ideology driven news network. By covering stories that Fox News won’t touch, MSNBC is winning over a demographic that is vital to their long term growth. One week ago, Maddow, Matthews and Lawrence O’Donnell all beat Fox News with younger viewers on Monday night. That one night of victory snowballed into an entire week of wins for Maddow and Matthews.
Fox News still doesn’t get it. The problem isn’t the hosts, or their timeslots. The problem is that the Republican talking points that they are pushing are wildly unpopular with the majority of the country. Fox News leads the cable news ratings because they have been able to keep other potential conservative competition off of the airwaves, and because Roger Ailes has convinced the conservative cable news audience that the only channel they can trust is Fox News.
It is interesting that Chris Hayes was given the 8 PM slot because it was assumed that he could attract younger viewers, but it is Chris Matthews who is winning his timeslot. The move to 7 PM, and the dropping of the replay of his show have both been a godsend to Matthews. He is no longer doing his show live when most people aren’t at home, and splitting his audience with a 7 PM replay.
Fox News will continue to dominate in terms of overall viewers until they get some real competition for their conservative audience, but MSNBC has stumbled on to a formula that works. Just as Fox News made their name with their coverage of the Lewinsky scandal in the 1990s, MSNBC is reaching new heights thanks to Chris Christie’s scandals.
As Fox’s audience continues to age, MSNBC is building a core audience of younger viewers. Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews are leading a revival at MSNBC, as younger viewers continue to reject the Republican agenda being pushed by Fox News.
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