Audience data for 2015 contains bad news for Fox News. Fox continues to march towards extinction as the average age of Fox News, primetime viewers is stuck at 68, while the revitalized CNN saw their average viewer age drop to 59.
TVNewser reported, “Through Dec. 15 (which was the day of the last GOP debate), CNN’s median age was 61 years old for total day, and 59 years old for prime time (Monday-Sunday). MSNBC’s audience is two years older, at 63 (for both total day and prime time), while FNC’s is 67 for total day and 68 in prime time. For both MSNBC and FNC, that’s the oldest level on record in both dayparts.”
Daytime audiences are always going to skew older, so the level playing field is in primetime. Both MSNBC and Fox News tried a similar strategy of promoting younger on screen talent to attract younger viewers. Both networks have seen their audience grow older.
CNN took a different path. The network’s mix of primetime news, documentaries, and original series has drawn younger viewers their programming.
Fox’s problems mirror those of the Republican Party. As Frank Rich pointed out in New York Magazine nearly a year ago, “Hard as it may be to fathom, Fox Nation is even more monochromatically white than the GOP is, let alone the American nation. Two percent of Mitt Romney’s voters were black. According to new Nielsen data, only 1.1 percent of Fox News’s prime-time viewership is (as opposed to 25 percent for MSNBC, 14 percent for CNN, and an average of roughly 12 percent for the three broadcast networks’ evening news programs).”
Fox News isn’t a television network. It is a retirement home/echo chamber for old white conservatives.
The fact that CNN has been able to attract younger viewers while Fox continues to flail suggests that the current cable news ratings leader is the path to extinction. As is the case with the Republican Party, demographics are not on Fox’s side. As Hispanics and African-Americans have become part of the backbone of the Democratic Party, they are ignoring Fox News.
Donald Trump is leading the Republican primary because he understands who the Fox News viewers are and what they want to hear. Trump is running on a platform that is designed to capture the votes of the Fox News crowd. The fact that Donald Trump is flourishing as Fox News is aging is not a coincidence.
Without younger viewers, Fox News is not sustainable in the long-term.
Fox News is dying of old age, and nothing that Roger Ailes has tried has reversed the creeping demise that is certain to come with the advancement of 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