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New TV News Math: Political Viewing A Key... Amid Trump Questions

With Tucker Carlson's exit now firmly in the rear-view mirror for Fox News Channel, are we now seeing where the rubber meets the road? Speeding TV networks to come.

A broader view of June Nielsen's viewing data shows Fox News Channel down 31% to a Nielsen-measured 1.49 million viewers. Hot on the heels of the cable channel still at the top overall is MSNBC -- just 170,000 viewers behind at 1.32 million.

Perhaps the silver lining for Fox News comes that MSNBC was only able inch up 3% year-over-year, with CNN down 3% to 635,000. CNN, now with its own issues behind the camera, continues to trail the two big news networks by anywhere from 600,000 to 750,000 viewers.

With nearly a year away from the two summer  major party political conventions - that will decide the U.S. presidency -- this could be a sign what viewership battle will ensue.

However, this does not mean Fox News Channel viewers will sit on the sidelines. Conservative-minded Fox News might make further programming changes. 

One show -- “Jesse Watters Primetime” -- took over Carlson's 8 p.m. slot but still has a long way to go, averaging 2.1 million viewers in June.

Before he departed in April, Carlson was averaging anywhere from 3.5 million to 4.0 million viewers.

Carlson departed Fox News Channel in April -- just after Fox Corp. settled its lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5 million. Court disclosures revealed Carlson had made what analysis by many said were racist texts -- including that of longtime fringe “replacement theory”. 

Referencing a group of Trump loyalists in the street beating an “Antifa kid,” Carlson texted this: “It's not how white men fight. Yet suddenly I found myself rooting for the mob against the man, hoping they would hit him harder, kill him.” 

Honesty is the best policy, no? Is that content TV news audiences should expect of their on-air hosts? For Fox, there has been more focus on Hunter Biden, border issues, and whatever remains of inflation concerns -- all looking for a connection to President Biden. 

Still, with all this disruption -- Fox News, in the middle of a typical politically low-profile news summer period -- the network remains on top of the leaderboard.

What will come during this fall and winter period? Former President Trump might not have that much TV network visibility, as the network continues to move away from Trump-focused content at times. More specifically, we wonder about those highly rated debate events. 

In 2015/2016, those events resulted in heavy political spin and major gains among TV network viewers -- largely due to Trump. 

A controversial CNN-programmed Trump Town Hall in New Hampshire gave CNN a major spike of 3.1 million viewers. That's nearly five times its June prime-time average!

The trouble is that Trump's recent thinking is that he may not participate in upcoming Republican Presidential debates. 

Finding spikes in prepared TV new-issue programs will be a tough task over the next 12 months.

1 comment about "New TV News Math: Political Viewing A Key... Amid Trump Questions".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 10, 2023 at 9:11 a.m.

    Wayne, the audience attained by the competing cable news channels is much larger than their average minute stats indicate. Typically if a cable news channel "reaches" a million viewers per minute per Nielsen---bearing in mind that this includes many who have left the room or are paying no attention----its total day reach is more like ten million and the monthly figure is usually double or triple that.

    So what we are seeing is that some Fox viewers have temporarily deserted the network due to its newly perceived anti-MAGA ---or anti-Trump---stance while many who are almost as dedicated right wngers as the abstainers have greatly reduced their consumption of Fox content---but they still watch---only more selectively.

    Fortunately for Fox and MSNBC, CNN's leadership has opted for a slight tilt to the right but without the personalities to exploit this strategy and will continue to fail dismally in the average minute Nielsen tallies as its reach, which is wider than the others, can't be converted to the frequent snd extended viewing habit that still works for Fox and now, for MSNBC.

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