Ratings Woes Won’t Help Gretchen Carlson’s Case

By A.J. Katz 

Among the more than a half dozen blockbuster allegations in her sexual harassment lawsuit against Roger Ailes, former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson may not be able to stake a claim on one of them: that her contract wasn’t renewed despite “consistent ratings increases.” The 8-page lawsuit states that her 2 p.m. program, “consistently ranked number one among cable news programs in her time slot.”

But not in its final month. In June, The Real Story finished second to CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin in the key A25-54 demo (190,000 to 186,000).

In another clumsily-worded phrase, the suit claims “with ratings in her final month of June 2016 up 33% in total viewers year to date.” TVNewser researched Nielsen data and reached out to Carlson’s representatives to get to the bottom of this claim. Her reps tell us the 33 percent growth is from June 2015 vs. June 2016 (not year to date). But Nielsen data shows the year-over-year total viewer gain for the program is actually 22 percent. Carlson’s attorneys continue to stand by the 33 percent figure.

It is true that Carlson’s show saw ratings increases “up until the day she was terminated” with the show up +12 percent in total viewers in Q2 2016 vs. Q2 2015. (It should be noted the entire network is having its most-watched year ever.) It’s also true that Carlson’s show “consistently ranked number one among cable news programs in her time slot.” But among Fox News shows, The Real Story was near the bottom of the pack. It was the 13th most-watched program for Q2 2016 averaging 1.15 million viewers, trailing all other FNC shows except Fox and Friends (1.09 million), Fox and Friends First at 5 a.m. (446,000) and the 3 a.m. program Red Eye (356,000).

And despite a +17 percent year-over-year increase in the A25-54 demo, The Real Story was the 24th highest-rated cable news program of the quarter (183,000), finishing only ahead of two FNC shows: Fox and Friends First (110,000) and Red Eye (107,000).