Sunday, May 6, 2012

The tallest midgets in Texas, 2012 edition.

Fox News Channel is the great success of cable news, but distinguishing between "pay TV"and "broadcast TV" is an idea that belongs to last century.  Most people who watch TV have access to at least the basic cable so they are competing with everybody on TV, not just other cable news outlets.

Fox News is designed for people who never want their world view challenged.  Even the possibility of seeing something upsetting on Today or Good Morning America is too much for their delicate sensibilities, so they watch FOX and Friends in the morning to avoid cognitive dissonance over coffee.

According to the TV ratings, this is a tiny number of people.

ABC and NBC are now in a battle for first place among morning shows.  Today has been the leader for a while now, but Good Morning America has caught up and for the past few weeks has pulled ahead.  Both shows get about five million viewers a morning, with just over two million in the coveted 25-54 demographic.  CBS trails badly, getting barely half those numbers, two and a half million viewers and a million in the 25-54 age range.

CBS should be ashamed of themselves. They do so well in prime time and they suck so bad in the morning.

FOX and Friends has an audience half the size of CBS, a rank failure. Instead of getting about 40% of their viewers from the prime demographic, they get about 30%.

This is also true of Fox News evening programming.  They are MUCH bigger than other cable news outlets, but still minor league in comparison to broadcast news. The distinction between cable and broadcast is getting smaller all the time, but the "success" of Fox News Channel is just a minor league victory.

Nowhere is this clearer than the show Fox News Sunday, which goes head to head with the other Sunday talking head fests on the broadcast channel Fox. In this arena, CBS has the leader with Face The Nation, competing with NBC's Meet The Press for first place, while ABC's This Week trails badly for third. Fox News Sunday gets put in the mix with the big boys and it's patently obvious it can't keep up. Here are the numbers for last week, which are typical of the numbers I've seen for this year. (Source: TVNewser.)

Network Program Total Viewers A25-54
“Face the Nation” 3.03M 840K
“Meet the Press” 2.81M 760K
ABC “This Week” 2.39M 727K
FOX “Fox News Sunday” 1.04M 471K
Univision “Al Punto” 886K 358K

Fox News Sunday shows how weak the brand really is.  It's not trying to catch up with ABC. It's running for its life, hoping not to be passed up by a show broadcast in Spanish.

Time to stop pretending Fox News is a success story. It's a propaganda channel for a political party that is getting eaten alive by the changing demographics in this country. Like Sarah Palin, one of its contributors, Fox News gets a lot more attention than it deserves.


Anonymous said...

Funny. We are hooked on Morning Joe on MSNBC for our morning show. Why isn't that show in the running?

Matty Boy said...

It has about one third the ratings of Fox and Friends. There is no question that Fox News dominates cable news, but cable is playing with the big boys now, not tucked away in some minor league.