In a quarter that had enough news to fill up about a year, Fox News held onto its No. 1 spot.
With network coverage dominated by President Donald Trump’s impeachment and the coronavirus pandemic, the conservative network had its highest-rated quarter ever, FoxNews.com reported Tuesday. Fox also had 13 of the top 15 rated shows on cable, with Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson’s programs at the top, according to the Washington Examiner.
Fox dominates first quarter
2020 has proven so far to be an insanely eventful year, and Fox News saw its viewership grow to its largest ever in both primetime and total day viewership in the first quarter. The network’s primetime audience expanded by 39% compared to the same time last year, with an average of 3.4 million viewers, Fox reported.
What’s more, the top shows are almost exclusively Fox News programs. Hannity was the most-watched, with an average of 4.2 million viewers, followed by Tucker Carlson Tonight, which averaged four million viewers, according to Fox. The top five were rounded out by The Five, The Ingraham Angle, and Special Report with Bret Baier.
MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show finished sixth, and The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell was the only other show in the top 15 to not appear on Fox News, the Washington Examiner noted. CNN’s top show, The Lead with Jake Tapper, was 22nd in viewers.
Carlson’s show stood out at Fox — and arguably all of cable — for his early and urgent coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, which began spreading around the world while MSNBC and CNN (and their Democratic handlers) were focused on impeachment. Other Fox hosts were criticized for downplaying the virus or even calling it a “hoax.”
In fact, Fox Business recently parted ways with Trish Regan, who said that the coronavirus was just another “attempt to impeach” Trump, the Wall Street Journal reported. As of Wednesday, COVID-19 had killed more than 4,000 Americans, according to USA Today, while sending millions to file for unemployment.
Indeed, by March, the coronavirus had totally saturated media coverage and brought unprecedented changes to American life. Fox, for its part, swept coronavirus coverage that month, according to Nielsen, with an average 2.1 million viewers, compared to MSNBC’s 1.3 million and CNN averaged 1.2 million, Fox reported.
The quarter was also eventful for cable in other ways: Chris Hayes abruptly departed MSNBC after a 20-year career, according to Vanity Fair, and CNN’s Chris Cuomo recently announced that he had contracted the coronavirus. Carlson, who frequently mocks CNN on his show, said he was wishing Cuomo well and would take a break from ribbing him, The Wrap reported.
Keeping up the streak
In total viewers, Fox had the largest percentage gains since Q1 last year, with 38%, beating out CNN’s 26% surge and MSNBC’s dismal 1%, according to The Wrap. CNN had just 901,000 total viewers, and MSNBC had just over one million total viewers.
Fox Business also had its highest-rated quarter ever, according to Nielsen, and Fox News Channel had record ratings in the significant 25-to-54 demographic.
Overall, Fox finished its 15th consecutive quarter as the most-watched network and its 73rd as the top-rated in primetime and total day viewers, the network said. It’s been a disorienting few months, to say the least, but apparently, some things never change.