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Andrea Austria / Media Matters

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Fox News prime-time ratings continue to crater as Lachlan Murdoch downplays collapse to stakeholders

A Media Matters analysis of Fox’s new prime-time lineup finds that ratings have fallen roughly 30% since Tucker Carlson’s firing, and over 45% in the key 25-54 year-old demographic

  • A new Media Matters analysis finds that Fox News’ prime-time ratings have cratered since Tucker Carlson’s firing, with ratings down in both the key 25-54-year-old demographic (over 45%) and total audience (roughly 30%) — a collapse that Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch sought to downplay in the company’s fiscal quarterly earnings call on Tuesday. 

    Murdoch said that the news network “debuted its tweaked prime time lineup last month” and Fox executives “are pleased with the initial results and are confident that our deep bench of talent will continue to set the standard for all news services.” Murdoch went on to tout that “since its mid-July debut,” Fox News’ prime-time lineup “is up over 35% in total viewers and up over 40% in the 25 to 54 demographic versus the June schedule.” 

    While Fox News’ ratings did appear to rise between June and July, Murdoch left out that they are nowhere near the network’s ratings before Carlson’s dramatic exit in April, when Fox prime time initially nosedived

    As Media Matters previously reported, following Carlson’s April 24 exit from the network, Fox initially saw a nearly 50% drop in total weekday viewership, while weekday viewership for the 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. hours dropped by 24% and 21%, respectively. By the end of Fox’s first full month without Carlson, Media Matters’ analysis found that total weekday viewership for Fox’s 8 p.m. hour dropped by 55% compared to the network’s May 2022 average. The 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. hours also continued to experience the fallout from Carlson’s departure, with their May 2023 weekday ratings respectively dropping 37% and 35% from their average 2022 nightly viewership.

    Now, nearly five months after Carlson’ exit, Fox News has still not recovered — despite the rosy picture that Murdoch attempted to offer in the August 8 earnings call. 

    During the 15 weeks after Carlson was fired, Fox’s average prime-time Monday-Sunday ratings dropped roughly 30% compared to the 15 weeks leading up to his firing. Average prime-time viewers in the key demographic of 25-54-year-olds dropped over 45%. The ratings for Carlson’s previous timeslot have dropped even more — in the 15 weeks since he was fired, Fox’s 8 p.m. slot has had an over 40% decrease in ratings for all viewers and a nearly 60% decrease for viewers in the key 25-54 demographic compared to the 15 weeks before Carlson was ousted.

  • Fox average prime-time viewers
  • Fox News primetime demo viewers
  • Media Matters also analyzed Fox’s average prime-time ratings for weekdays only and found a similar trend: In the 15 weeks following Carlson’s exit, Fox’s weekday prime-time ratings dropped over 32% compared to the 15 weeks before his ouster, while the network lost over 47% of viewers in the key 25-54 age demographic. Carlson’s former 8 p.m. hour also saw a roughly 47% drop in total weekday viewers, and lost over 62% of viewers in the key 25-54 demographic compared to the 15 weeks before Carlson was fired. (Viewership data for June 30 was unavailable and therefore was not included in this analysis.) 

  • Fox ratings week day prime time
  • Fox ratings prime time demo
  • Data contributions from Payton Armstrong, Torri Lonergan, Julie Tulbert, Bushra Sultana, Gideon Taaffe, Shelby Jamerson, and Sage Hodil.

    Update (8/14/23): This piece has been updated with additional data on Fox News' weekday ratings.