Fox News Hits 12 Year Ratings Low

For whatever reason, Fox News has become somewhat less of a ratings behemoth than it used to be:

Fox News had its worst primetime ratings among a key group of viewers since 2001 in January, according to the latest figures.

The network had a 12-year low in the coveted 25-54 demographic in primetime and fell to its lowest total day ratings since 2008, a press release from rival cable channel MSNBCstated on Tuesday.

And January marked the worst month ever for Fox’s “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren” among the 25-54 demo, as well as the channel’s lowest total viewership in the 10 p.m. hour since July 2008.

At  MSNBC, the cable network saw its ratings go up 11 percent in the 25-54 demo compared to January 2012. And “The Rachel Maddow Show” topped CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” this month, and also ranked number one among the 18-34 demo.

It’s worth noting that, notwithstanding this drop, Fox still had nine out of the top ten cable news shows for the month of January and it’s 6am show gets more viewers than any of CNN’s prime-time shows. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting development. I wonder how much of it is related to viewer burnout after the elections.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. SKI says:

    I wonder how much of it is related to viewer burnout after the elections.

    Or their core demographic “ageing out” of the prime demographic groupings (and dying off on the upper end).

  2. Brian Lehman says:

    They spent months saying Romney would win. He didn’t come close. Viewers are probably depressed and maybe, just maybe, some realize they were being played. Okay, not really.

  3. mantis says:

    The media wing of the Republican Party is having trouble keeping the attention of the 25-54 demographic because their messages are designed to appeal primarily to old white people. The key demo is more diverse and doesn’t particularly care for their xenophobic, homophobic, bass-ackward, gun freak agenda.

    Expect this trend to continue, as GOPFOX’s audience skews older and older, and expect that audience to shrink as the old-timers continue to die off and are not replaced by like-minded younger people.

    Most of the groups that the GOP (and FOX) have remained committed to demonizing and marginalizing for decades (women, homosexuals, immigrants, college students, educated people, anyone with darker skin than Bill O’Reilly, etc.) are now in the ascendant. We are getting very close to equality for gays, the GOP’s 1930s attitudes towards women have been in the spotlight and roundly rejected, immigration reform is picking up steam, and of course our first black president was just reelected. It’s no wonder fewer people are watching FOX. They are on the losing side of history, and everyone not stuck in a time warp knows it.

  4. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I perused the list of the Top 30 programs, and it seems like CNN only barely breaks into the top 20 (with Wolf Blitzer at #20) in overall viewers. And congrats to Rachel Maddow for busting her way into the #10 overall. 🙂

  5. Mikey says:


    Or their core demographic “ageing out” of the prime demographic groupings (and dying off on the upper end).

    That makes sense. 25-54 is a pretty broad demographic. Plenty of 54-year-olds have kids that are 25 or even a bit older.

    I’m not sure if a detailed breakdown is available, but I’d bet Fox’s viewership in the 25-54 group is skewed very heavily toward the 54, and that there are relatively few modern 25-year-olds who will fill in the spots left when the 54-year-olds turn 55.

  6. Ron Beasley says:

    @mantis: I was the caregiver for my 90 year old mother. FOX was on all of the time. She passed away two weeks ago and FOX has not been on since.

  7. mantis says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    Condolences to you, friend.

  8. anjin-san says:

    I think Rove’s election night meltdown may qualify as a genuine “jumped the shark” moment.

    No doubt Fox will continue to hold on to the Jenos/bithead types. After the election though, I think some of the brighter members of their audience realized that they were being played. The Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare probably contributed to this dynamic as well.

  9. Tony W says:

    I, for one, rarely watch television at all – but if I did it would certainly not be Fox News. Perhaps liberal and urban types are mostly too busy living active lives to sit around and watch cable news and opinion shows.

    Old school television news (and newspapers) was the way people consumed current events back in the day, but not as much with the young people now who now depend upon the internet.

    That leaves older liberals to split the moderate CNN and liberal MSNBC channels. Completely makes sense that Fox gets the best ratings today.

    If I am correct, the future is pretty dim for them.

  10. Hal 10000 says:

    I think it’s disillusionment. The re-election fo Obama in the face of Fox News’ certainty that Romney would win made a lot of people angry and depressed. An aunt of mine, a regular watcher until November, has stopped watching all news because it’s too depressing.

    This was predictable. When you ride the wave of “everything is awful! the world is ending! Obama will destroy America!” eventually people tire of the anger and just get depressed.

  11. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Ron Beasley: Substitute “father” for “mother,” and I have lived that. I share your pain.

  12. Liberal Capitalist says:

    There was an election coming… there would soon be a new sheriff.

    The tribe needed a place to come together, where reality could be ignored, and ignorance embraced.

    They would win… They KNEW they would win !!!


    The flow of unbounded derp kept 47% of America hopeful…

    Then: The downfall … the nightmare… the Rove explosion.

    Hope died…

    The placidly ignorant have gone into full denial.

    They don’t want to talk.

    They don’t want to hear that Obama is president… And EVEN FOX NEWS keeps saying HIS NAME !!!

    … the horror… the horror…

  13. Rob in CT says:

    Ron, sorry to hear about your mother.

    My dad is 87. Though he will actually deny it (just like he denies listening to Limbaugh constantly throughout the Clintonmonster years), he watches a ton of Fox News. He’ll sometimes watch other options, but the default is Fox. Unsurprisingly, he thinks the CRA (Jimmy Carter!), Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Barney Frank were to blame for the housing bubble. And so on and so forth.

    The other thing I notice about Fox is that it seems to be the default choice at bars, restaurants, etc. Sound off, mostly. Which sometimes makes the blatant propoganda even more stark (all you’ve got are the visual cues, and they’re not exactly subtle).

  14. Tsar Nicholas says:

    The cited story basically is the reverse angle of that “four alarm fire clears way for glorious new tractor factory” skit from “Airplane.” Fox’s ratings dwarf those of CNN and MSNBC, combined. But Fox News Derangment Syndrome shares the same psychological and psychiatric components of Republican Derangement Syndrome. What matters is “the narrative.” Perspective and context matter not.

    In any case, obviously Fox’s ratings are way down from their halcyon days. Obama won the presidency and then for good measure got reelected. Many conservatives have thrown in the towel and simply have checked out of following politics.

    Regarding the demographic ratings components, the obvious point is that kids aged 25-30 today even are less educated, dumber, loopier, and more useless, than kids who were aged 25-30 only a decade ago. Bush Derangement Syndrome hit especially hard in K-12 and at colleges and universites. There’s not much of a reason for Gen. Y to be watching Fox News. it would be over their heads and they’d be wasting their time. And pseudo comedy shows such as Stewart’s and Colbert’s largely have cornered the market for that demographic.

    That all said, ultimately the cable TV news “wars” are akin to Liechtenstein vs. Luxembourg. None of them have substantial audiences. O’Reilly for example by far has the No. 1 show on cable TV news, but if a network program received that sort of paltry audience it would be canceled on the spot.

  15. mantis says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Nobody cares what you think, Nicky. Since your only interest here is posting screeds and running way, why don’t you just go start your own wingnut blog?

  16. anjin-san says:

    This is worth repeating:

    Nobody cares what you think, Nicky.



  17. MBunge says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: “There’s not much of a reason for Gen. Y to be watching Fox News. it would be over their heads and they’d be wasting their time.”

    If you think Fox News is too high-brow or intellectual for anyone, you’re literally insane. People don’t watch Fox because it’s TOO SMART for them? Really?


  18. Bleev K says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Thank you for your insight, Profesor.

  19. Tyrell says:

    The news channels are all in decline. Maybe it’s because of the internet, but they won’t be around much longer.

  20. Neil Hudelson says:

    This is clearly the doings of the liberal academe-media-socialist cabal.

  21. Fiona says:

    My parents, pushing 80, watch a steady diet of Fox and have all the talking points down. They’re part of Fox’s target audience–angry old white people who respond to scare tactics. As this audience dies out, Fox’s viewership will fall even further.

    With news easily available from so many other sources, I wonder how long the 24-7 news channels are going to last, at least in their current form.

  22. Tyrell says:

    @Fiona: Mine are the opposite – MSNBC all the time. I can take some of theirs, but Sharpton and Maddow are just too much. I like their “Morning Joe”, but that’s it. Dropped Fox long ago. PBS is my occasional station. Wish Crossfire was still around.
    Watching that same stuff over and over has to destroy brain cells or is a form of Brainwashing. Sharpton – worse than root canal. Shouting on any news program is demeaning, doesn’t matter who it is.

  23. Mike says:

    The good news reporting on TV is John Stewart. I laughed when Fox News reported that the President was trying to delegitimize Fox News and was targeting them. Really? The President doesn’t need to delegimitize Fox – they do a fine job all on their own.