Fox News has been the most-watched cable news network for the last two decades. But after the network fired right-wing extremist Tucker Carlson, ratings for key prime-time hours are down significantly: Fox’s 8 p.m. hour has experienced a nearly 50% drop in total viewership, while viewership for the 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. hours has dropped by 24% and 21% respectively.
After spending nearly seven years spouting conspiracy theories and dangerous misinformation to an audience of millions, Carlson was suddenly fired from Fox News on April 24. Details around his ousting were initially unclear, but recent reporting from The New York Times suggests that racist text messages from Carlson, which were obtained through the discovery process in Dominion Voting Systems’ billion-dollar defamation lawsuit against the network, played a role.
In 2022, Carlson managed to pull an average of 3.3 million viewers per night, and his show was the most popular among 25- to 54-year-olds. Without Carlson, Fox News’ 8 p.m. hour, and other key prime-time hours, have seen a significant drop in ratings. Here is a look at how the ratings for a Carlson-less Fox News have evolved since his ousting.
Ratings for multiple prime-time hours on Fox News have fallen significantly since Tucker Carlson was fired
According to a Media Matters analysis of cable news ratings (courtesy of Ad Week and Mediaite), Tucker Carlson Tonight received an average of 3.1 million viewers each weeknight during the two weeks leading up to Carlson’s firing (April 10 to 21). Now, after two weeks without Carlson, it is clear that Fox’s 8 p.m. hour is struggling to achieve the same ratings. On average, from April 24 to May 5, 1.6 million people tuned in to Fox’s 8 p.m. hour; in other words, in just two weeks without Carlson, Fox’s 8 p.m. hour has experienced a 49% decrease in total viewership.
Carlson’s departure has also affected the ratings for other key prime-time time slots at Fox, including the hours hosted by extremists Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham.
Hannity experienced a 24% reduction in total viewership for his time slot after Carlson left, while Ingraham saw a 21% drop in total viewership. (Hannity received an average of 2.5 million viewers per night from April 10 to 21 and 1.9 million from April 25 to May 5. Ingraham averaged 1.9 million viewers per night from April 19 to 21 but 1.5 million April 24 to May 5.)
Fox has also experienced a substantial drop in viewers for advertisers’ core demographic
A significant number of people between the ages of 25 and 54 — a critical age demographic for cable companies because advertisers buy commercials targeted toward them — have also seemingly abandoned Fox News’ 8 p.m., 9 p.m., and 10 p.m. time slots. From April 10 to 21, an average of 383,000 viewers between the ages of 25 and 54 tuned in nightly to Fox to watch Tucker Carlson’s 8 p.m. show. But without him, the time slot has experienced a 60% decrease in average viewership for the demographic: From April 24 to May 5, the 8 p.m. hour averaged 152,000 viewers per night.
Hannity’s 9 p.m. hour received an average of 266,000 viewers between the ages of 25 to 54 from April 10 to 21. But from April 24 to May 5, ratings for the demographic dropped by 41%, with an average of 156,000 viewers. Ingraham’s hour experienced a similar decline; from April 10 to 21, the 10 p.m. hour averaged 223,000 viewers per night between the ages of 25 and 54, but from April 24 to May 5, the time slot drew 150,000 average nightly viewers in the demographic, a 33% decrease.
With Fox losing viewers, right-wing competitor Newsmax is seemingly benefiting
Since Carlson was fired, Newsmax has seen a significant boost in viewership for its 8 p.m., 9 p.m., and 10 p.m. time slots. The 8 p.m. hour has grown by 226%, from an average of 148,000 viewers per night from April 10 to April 21 to an average of 483,000 viewers per night from April 24 to May 5. The 9 p.m. hour saw a 218% increase in viewers and the 10 p.m. hour saw a 128% increase in viewership during the same time frame.
Newsmax has also seen an increase in viewers for people in the 25 to 54 age demographic: The 8 p.m. time slot saw a 141% increase in viewers, from an average of 19,000 per night from April 10 to 21 to an average of 46,000 from April 24 to May 5. The 9 p.m. hour saw a 179% increase in viewers within the demographic, while the 10 p.m. time slot saw a 160% increase.
The last time Fox News experienced a drop in ratings, the network and its personalities resorted to pushing lies that cost them hundreds of billions of dollars. And now, as Media Matters’ Matt Gertz noted, even with Tucker gone, Fox’s audience will still demand incendiary content. Whatever Fox does to feed its audience's demands and to win back fleeing viewers “won’t be pretty.”