Fox News Has Been Delivering Total Audience Gains Since the Election

By A.J. Katz 

As TVNewser reported on this morning, 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch gave his father Rupert Murdoch an “A+” during the 2016 UBS Global Media and Communications Conference for his handling of Fox News in the post-Roger Ailes era (July 2016 – present).

“I believe Fox News’ prospects for 2017 to be very strong,” James Murdoch said, adding that ratings “are less down than we expected.” Murdoch also noted that because ratings at CNN and MSNBC shot up during the election, their numbers have dropped “quite a bit more” than Fox’s.

We wanted to fact check the latter part of Murdoch’s statement, and find out if Fox News ratings are holding up post-election while CNN’s and MSNBC’s are down. The Nielsen live-plus-same-day data shown below takes into account average viewership from the post-Election time period to-date (Nov. 9, 2016 – Dec. 1, 2016) versus the notable time period leading up to election day (Sept. 1 – Nov. 8, 2016).

P2+ P25-54
AA(000) AA(000)
___________________________ ___________________________
Post-Ele 9/1 – 11/8/16 %Diff Post-Ele 9/1 – 11/8/16 %Diff
MTWTFSS  06:00A – 06:00A
Fox News 1823 1567 +16% 394  341  +16%
CNN 765  946  -19% 237  316  -25%
MSNBC 559  825  -32% 136  208  -35%
MTWTFSS  08:00P – 11:00P
Fox News 2932  2895  +1% 616  627  -2%
CNN 960  1651  -42% 329  620  -47%
MSNBC 959  1553  -38% 231  395  -42%

Per above, Murdoch is correct. FNC is seeing a boost in Total Viewers since Trump’s victory on November 8th, particularly in the 6a-6a daypart, while it has lost a bit of traction with younger audiences in prime time, who perhaps aren’t quite as enthralled by cable news now that the election is complete. Nevertheless, Fox News’ decline, as Murdoch mentioned, is rather minuscule compared to the election ratings hangover experienced by both CNN and MSNBC. CNN, which thrived with its prime time coverage, has experienced a steeper fall in that daypart, while MSNBC has suffered more across the total day.

Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see if MSNBC takes a page out of the Fox News playbook and plays the role of attack dog against the Trump administration next year. If so, can MSNBC surpass CNN in the ratings race for second place?