Sacking Tucker Carlson has put a dent in Fox News’ ratings
Aafter fox news who fired Tucker Carlson—the top-rated host on America’s top cable news channel—on April 24, political influence experts downplayed his exit. If viewers wanted more stories on its favorite topics, such as crimes committed by immigrants or protecting the rioters who stormed the Capitol in 2021, the network could find someone new to deliver them. .
But so far, Mr. Carlson’s audience has lapped up the rotating hosts in his 8 p.m. slot. According to Nielsen, a research company, viewership dropped from 3m in its final week to 1.5m the following week. It’s been smooth sailing ever since. Sean Hannity, who followed Mr. Carlson’s show, has also lost a quarter of his audience. The biggest gainer is Newsmax, a channel even longer than Fox, whose viewers at 8 pm rose from 150,000 to almost 500,000.
However, that leaves 1.15m people who stopped watching cable news at 8pm. Could a decrease in right-wing media influence their views? According to a recent study by David Broockman and Joshua Kalla, only 32% of regular Fox viewers are “strong” Republicans, a group that is likely to vote for the party no matter what. By contrast, 31% were “weak” or “lean” Republicans, and 36% were independents or Democrats.
The authors also found that the Fox audience was open to persuasion. They randomly selected some Fox viewers to payto watch cnn, a more liberal channel, for a month. Compared to study participants who did not convert, this group was more likely to maintain broadcast views cnnhow covid-19 causes long-term health problems, and how likely those mentioned on Fox are to hold, such as protests are likely to become more violent if Joe Biden becomes president.
Mr. Carlson’s departure may have a smaller impact. Some viewers will tune in to the new show he plans to launch on Twitter. In addition, ratings for both cnn and on the left msnbc has been flattering, suggesting that his followers are not yet open to liberal ideas. And just as Fox’s ratings rebounded after Bill O’Reilly, Mr. Carlson’s predecessor in the 8 p.m. slot, was fired in 2017, whoever succeeds Mr. Carlson could it will also build a new following.
Regardless, presidential primaries are looming, and the next host may endorsing a Republican not nominated by Trump. For now, the loss of countryman, satirical Mr. Carlson has caused 1.15m people to abandon conservative cable news in prime time.■
Chart sources: Nielsen; mediaite.com; “Selective information and partisan echo chambers in television news consumption”, by DE Broockman and JL Kalla, working paper; “Cross-cutting media use induces learning and measures attitudes”, by DE Broockman and JL Kalla, working paper