President Trump said his relationship with Fox News Channel is essentially — with perhaps a steady New York accent — O-vah. For now, anyway.
Among a number of recent tweets, Trump has said of the network: “Fox is no longer working for us.” In response, Brit Hume, senior political analyst for Fox News Channel, tweeted: “Fox News isn’t supposed to work for you.”
Does this mean the most-watched cable TV network — overall in prime time — will result in lower viewership? Not likely. Fox has a lot of room at the top among cable TV networks.
In August, it posted an average 2.5 million total viewers in prime time, around 1.4 million for total day viewing. In many other viewing months during most of the year, Fox hits around 3 million prime-time viewers.
Where will they go? Donald Trump hasn’t said explicitly — other than in a tweet: “We have to start looking for a new News Outlet.”
Industry watchers sense smaller cable TV new networks, including Newsmax TV and One America News, will get a boost. The former is estimated to have 50 million subscribers; the latter has 35 million. That said, we don’t have any actual viewership for those networks in key time periods, like prime time.
Everything in TV metrics is relative. Remember, Fox News’ 3 million average prime-time viewership represents about 1% of the total U.S population; about 2% of the total eligible U.S voters, which is 140 million.
Even then, let’s not get crazy. While all this doesn’t represent an exact split with Trump, there is a general difference from what Fox News Channel does in daytime (mostly news reporting) and what it does in prime time (mostly opinion-based content).
Other Fox daytime on-air hosts/personalities have called into question some of Trump’s statements and actions. Recently, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith disputed Trump's missives: “The President also said the wall is going up rapidly. As we just reported, there is no new wall.”
So while Trump implies all of Fox is against him, one should carefully monitor how Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham handle Trump in prime time going forward.
Much of this discourse has been amped up by somewhat unfavorable Fox News polls — findings that appeared on many of its competitors, such as MSNBC. One recent Fox News poll showed all of the top four Democratic presidential contenders somewhat easily beating Trump in 2020.
Let me rephrase the question at the top of this column: Are Trump's tweets about Fox seen as working or whining by viewers? (Certainly not winning.)