The Fox News Channel experienced a dramatic drop in its once-stellar viewership ratings in the aftermath of the 2020 election, but that doesn’t seem to have the network’s top brass too worried.
Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch predicted that the network’s ratings will quickly rebound as Fox News takes on its new role as the “loyal opposition” to President Joe Biden’s administration.
Those remarks from Murdoch came Thursday as part of a Morgan Stanley investors conference call and signaled the direction that Fox News intends to go over the next four years.
Fox to be “loyal opposition” to Biden
NBC News reported that Murdoch pointed to rival networks CNN and MSNBC as proof of how lucrative it can be for a news network to openly oppose a presidential administration, as both networks undoubtedly did during former President Donald Trump’s tenure in office.
“The main beneficiary of the Trump administration from a ratings point of view was MSNBC … and that’s because they were the loyal opposition,” Murdoch said.
“That’s what our job is now with the Biden administration, and you’ll see our ratings really improve from here,” he added.
Network to continue catering to “center-right” audience
Fox News, since its inception in 1996, has long catered to conservatives and Republicans with its coverage, and despite the appearance of a shift toward the center over the past year or two, Murdoch made it clear during the conference call that there are no plans to completely abandon the network’s base of viewers.
“Our audience was disappointed with the election results,” Murdoch said of the post-election ratings decline, NBC reported, though he predicted that the once-high ratings would quickly bounce back to normal levels.
“Seventy-five million people voted for a Republican president, sometimes in spite of his personality at times,” the Fox CEO added. “That’s what we represent. We’re going to stick to the center-right. That’s where our audience is.”
Presidents, pandemics, and TV ratings
The Daily Mail noted that Fox’s ratings did indeed plummet in the wake of the election, even temporarily falling behind rivals CNN and MSNBC for the first time in years. Fox’s ratings have since already begun to climb higher.
Meanwhile, though still trailing far behind the major cable news channels, new conservative networks Newsmax and One America News saw their ratings climb substantially. Both networks, which have billed themselves as alternatives to Fox, could retain a portion of Fox’s lost viewers.
Interestingly, Murdoch wasn’t the only one who raised eyebrows with his comments during the Morgan Stanley conference call. The Hill reported that WarnerMedia CEO Jason Hilar, with oversight of CNN, downplayed concerns that CNN’s ratings would decline in the absence of Trump by stating awkwardly that the coronavirus pandemic was keeping CNN’s viewership numbers up.