Failing His Way Up: Eric Bolling's Fox Ratings Fiasco

Failing His Way Up: Eric Bolling's Fox Ratings Fiasco

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

Eric Bolling's star turn at Fox News has run into some recent turbulence with the host trafficking in offensive, race-baiting attacks on President Obama. Following Bolling's awkward and empty on-air apology for calling the White House a "crib" and "Hizzouse" while being occupied by the country's first black president, his Fox News audition continues to play out on TV.

Eyed as a possible replacement for Glenn Beck when he exits Fox News on June 30, Bolling has become a crossover star in Roger Ailes' programming galaxy, regularly appearing on Fox News when not hosting his own nightly program on sister channel, Fox Business.

That Bolling has been able to boost his profile and ride the career fast track at Fox News while peddling ugly, race-based rhetoric isn't surprising, given his employer. That Bolling's been able to climb that Fox News ladder while posting truly dreadful ratings numbers for his nightly Fox Business show is, however, rather odd.

How bad are Bolling's ratings?

  • He's this close to hosting the lowest-rated weekday, primetime program in all of cable news. (That includes offerings from CNBC, CNN, Fox Business Network, Fox News, Headline News, and MSNBC.)
  • In a nation of 122 million 25- to 54-year-olds -- the coveted demographic most TV shows want as viewers -- Bolling only attracts 14,000 of them, or roughly 0.01 percent.
  • Competitors such as MSNBC routinely beat him in the ten o'clock time slot by nearly one million viewers.

Here's how bad Bollling's ratings are: For the months of April and May this year, his Follow the Money averaged just 47,000 viewers, according to Nielsen data. Only his Fox Business lead-in, America's Nightly Scoreboard, saved Bolling (and just barely) from hosting the lowest-rated primetime program on all of cable news.

Also, among male and female viewers between the ages of 18-34, Bolling has just 1,000 of them tuning in. (No, that's not a typo.)

Truth is, Bolling's basement ratings reflect Fox Business' sad state of Nielsen affairs. Launched with much fanfare in 2007 amid promises from its founder Rupert Murdoch to revolutionize business cable news, and specifically to take a big bite out of market leader CNBC, Fox Business today instead remains a commercial also-ran.

The channel draws a fraction of CNBC's audience; averaging 64,000 daily daytime viewers, compared to CNBC's 273,000. Yes, CNBC is available in 98 million cable homes, compared to Fox Business' base of 61 million. But as Murdoch insisted at the time of the channel's launch, "I'm not sure you need 90 million households. I think at 50 million to 60 million we can give [CNBC] a real run for their money."

Apparently Fox Business cannot.

Fox Business executives still play the plucky-upstart card in the press, suggesting the enterprise is just getting its footing, and that once it's upright and walking it'll only be a matter of time before CNBC falls in its path. But again, the channel's been in the air for four years. You know what Fox News accomplished in its first five years? It surpassed CNN as the most-watched cable news channel. Fox Business? It can't even break the six-figure mark in daily viewers.

And rather than being an outpost of sharp business news and analysis (quick, name a single industry story Fox Business has ever broken), the forgotten channel often seems more like a B-league holding bin, where wannabe Fox News hosts bide their time launching nutty attacks against Obama and airing embarrassing, juvenile stunts.

But Roger Ailes sees great things in Bolling's future, even if he teeters on being the lowest-rated host in all of cable news.

Fox News Channel, Fox Business
Eric Bolling
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