Fox News Wins in Cable Ratings

Fox News often ends up being in the news. From the dismissal of long-time network head Roger Ailes over sexual harassment allegations this summer to Megyn Kelly’s feud with Donald Trump during the primary debates, Fox News often ends up becoming the story.

Fox News has more viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined

It also leads the other cable news networks in rating – by a large margin. Most weeks the audience for Fox News is greater than CNN and MSNBC combined. The only basic cable network with more viewers than Fox News is ESPN. On October 7, Fox News will celebrate 20 years on the air.
For many liberals, Fox News is the antithesis of its slogan of “Fair and Balanced.” Liberals often see Fox News as self-absorbed and engaged in issues that are irrelevant. However, several years ago Jill Abramson, a managing editor for The New York Times, warned her colleagues that they were showing an “insufficient tuned-in-ness to the issues that are dominating Fox News.” In other words, according to Ms. Abramson Fox News was getting it right while other media outlets were getting it wrong.

Fox embraces opinionated news reporting

Opinionated news reporting is not a new concept, but Fox News embraced it, and the audience responded. Fox News offers straight news coverage segments under its mantra of “we report, you decide,’ but also provides clearly opinionated programs such as O’Reilly and Hannity. According to a study by Pew Research in 2013, 55% of Fox News' coverage consisted of commentary and opinions compared to 85% for MSNBC.

Americans don’t trust news organizations

Americans have little confidence in news organizations. A 2016 Pew Research study showed that only 18% of Americans believe the news they get from national news organizations. At the same time, 75% of Americans think that the news organizations serve a positive function by keeping political leaders in check.

Younger Americans favor online news

There is a fair amount of channel hopping between Fox News and CNN for breaking news stories. As a general statement, it’s safe to say that conservatives favor Fox News and liberals turn to CNN or MSNBC. All three cable news networks attract an older audience. The median age of Fox News viewers is 68. The viewing audiences for CNN (59) and MSNBC (61) aren't all that much younger. Not surprisingly younger viewers prefer to get their news online. Nearly 50% of Americans under age 49 receive their news online compared to only 29% of those between 50-64, and just 20% for those over 65.

Election year boost

This election year has seen a boost in cable news coverage, but the long-term trend line is down. Cable news audiences peaked during the 2008 election, and The Washington Post has reported that since 2009 the median daily audience for all three cable news outlets has fallen 19%.
Fox News may be winning the rating battle with the other cable news outlets, but online news is winning the war as America’s preferred source for news.

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