When the Fox News Channel fired cable news giant Bill O’Reilly in April, reports surfaced revealing Fox News’ owner, the Murdoch family, wanting to move the network in a different direction. Out with the old guard, in with the new. More hosts similar to Megyn Kelly, who is now at NBC News, fewer like the ones who built the network from the ground up, including O’Reilly.
About one month later, Fox News has a completely different news lineup, and the results thus far have been nothing short of disastrous.
On Thursday, TV Newser reported Fox News, which once dominated its competitors in virtually every timeslot, is now losing across the board in the key 25-54 demographic.
The results are most notable in primetime, which used to carry Fox News’ most reliable audience. Now, Fox News is running a distant third to hosts who previously drew audiences half the size of O’Reilly’s.
On Thursday, at the 7 p.m. hour, Fox News’ “The Story,” hosted by Martha MacCallum, lost by more than 100,000 viewers in the 25-54 demographic to CNN’s “OutFront” with Erin Burnett. Chris Matthews’ “Hardball” beat MacCallum by nearly 60,000 viewers.
At 8 p.m., Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” lost to both CNN’s Anderson Cooper and MSNBC’s “All In” with Chris Hayes.
At 9 p.m., Fox News Channel’s “The Five” was absolutely demolished by Cooper and MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” which won the key demographic by more than 200,000 viewers.
Of all the Fox News hosts in primetime, Sean Hannity performed the best, although he still finished third to “CNN Tonight” with Don Lemon and MSNBC’s “The Last Word” with Lawrence O’Donnell.
Through May 18, Fox News Channel's total audience in May remained larger than its cable-news competitors, including CNN and MSNBC, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Across the board, cable news is benefiting significantly from having President Donald Trump in the White House, but it appears the liberal networks have been able to capitalize on Trump-related news better than Fox News has, and it seems clear at least some of Fox News’ previously very loyal audience has parted ways with the network after O’Reilly was fired.
O’Reilly, who joins Glenn Beck on “The Glenn Beck Program” every Friday, told Beck on Friday there’s “no doubt” that “Fox News has a problem.”
“They have a problem,” O’Reilly said. “Fox News has a problem. There's no doubt about it. Whenever you lose a key person in any industry, competitive industry, sports, media, you better have a plan. And it doesn't look like FNC has a plan.
“The Trump haters are going over to MSNBC, and there's a lot of them, a lot of Trump haters,” O’Reilly said. “So, they're being bolstered by the problems the president is having. But on the Fox News side, they made their decisions. They didn't have to make those decisions, and they really didn't have a plan. You know when you take a guy like me out of the lineup, and I'm doing 5, 6 million views a night, you better have a plan to replace that.”
Editor's note: This article has been updated to include a statement that Fox News Channel's ratings for the month of May surpassed its cable-news competitors.