In a dramatic turnaround, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has dethroned Sean Hannity of Fox News as the top-rated show on cable news, Forbes magazine reported.
Although Forbes had said that February ratings had put Hannity on top with Fox’s Tucker Carlson second and Maddow third, March saw a major reversal.
“The Rachel Maddow Show” earned the top place as the highest-rated show in cable news by attracting an average of 3.058 million viewers. “Hannity,” with 3 million viewers, placed second to the show’s 9 p.m. rival.
Is Fox News ratings sinking?
Rachel Maddow Beats Sean Hannity, Takes Title As Most-Watched Cable News Host pic.twitter.com/UGrpsPYsJp
— Stone (@stonecold2050) April 5, 2018
Maddow also scored a solid win among viewers ages 25-54, with an average audience of 671,000 viewers in that age range. Hannity had an average audience of 616,000 viewers in the age bracket. CNN’s 9 p.m. time slot program featuring Anderson Cooper only had an average of 382,000 viewers between the ages of 25 and 54.
Maddow’s success was part of a meteoric rise by MSNBC, which saw its overall ratings rise by 30 percent, Adweek reported.
Although Fox remained the most-watched prime-time cable news network, MSNBC’s prime-time audience rose by 8 percent from the first quarter of 2017. Fox saw its numbers drop by 18 percent, while CNN saw its audience decline by 16 percent from 2017.
MSNBC had more to crow about in the first quarter. Its prime-time viewers in the 25-54 age range rose by 20 percent. MSNBC also showed dramatic daytime growth, with a 20 percent overall increase in viewers and a 21 percent increase in viewers in the 25-54 age range.
Writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Rob Tornoe called Maddow’s rise in popularity, “the strongest challenge to Fox News’ ratings dominance in years.”
Former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly is not so sure. O’Reilly was one of the most dominant forces in cable news before he was removed by Fox amid claims of sexual harassment.
“Ratings for CNN and Fox News have fallen substantially,” O’Reilly tweeted recently. “A few hate-Trump programs on MSNBC have added viewers but they will soon leave because the shows are boring. Most of us have had enough.”
Ratings for CNN and Fox News have fallen substantially. A few hate-Trump programs on MSNBC have added viewers but they will soon leave because the shows are boring. Most of us have had enough.
— Bill O’Reilly (@BillOReilly) March 15, 2018
In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, media writer Erik Wemple said Fox created its own problems and slammed “the opinion hours at Fox News” as “among the most toxic zones in all of American television.”
“For this running liability, Fox News can thank … itself. It allowed Glenn Beck to spin his hatred and destructive meanderings until he faced an advertiser retreat that bounced him from the lineup. It allowed Bill O’Reilly to rack up settlement after settlement with accusers until it all spilled out in a New York Times investigative report that triggered an advertiser desertion. It allowed Sean Hannity to hatch his own version of the truth, which included a Seth Rich conspiracy theory that inspired a similar action. And so it now takes but the most minor kerfuffle to inspire skittishness among companies that do business in this space,” he wrote.
Fox has also been a house divided. As reported by CNN, comments made by news anchor Shepard Smith created a social media spat that pitted Smith against Hannity.
“They don’t really have rules on the opinion side. They can say whatever they want,” Smith told Time in an interview that touched off the feud.
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