Fox News's Old Viewership Is Getting Even Older

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Fox News's ratings among 25- to 54-year-olds is the lowest it's been in 12 years, even as the cable channel remains the highest-watched of all its competitors.

In May, Fox News attracted an average of 264,000 primetime viewers in that key demographic. The last time their 25-54 ratings were so low for a single month was August of 2001, or just before the September 11th attacks. Although Fox News's individual shows continue to win out over their competitors, May produced decade-low numbers for their primetime and morning hosts, particularly in the 25-54 demographic used by advertisers. And that's why those figures matter so much: Fox News's audience is still relatively huge, but it's taking in smaller numbers of the only viewers ad buyers pay attention to. 

The New York Times took a look at the results for Bill O'Reilly's show, which remains popular with overall audience of 2.1 million viewers. But in the key demographic, he averaged just 313,000 viewers, a small percentage of his overall pull. His show's median viewer age is now 72.1, which is a high. That's part of a trend. Fox News's viewership is aging out of that key demographic, even as the overall median age of cable news viewers remains high: the median ages for the three cable networks in May were 62.5 (MSNBC), 62.8 (CNN), and 68.8 (Fox News). 

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But at least Fox News can say it's remaining steady as the most-watched cable news network, even with its shrinking and aging audience. Now that CNN has exhausted every possible angle into the missing plane story, the network's ratings — which were, as usual, well below Fox News's — plunged from a pretty good April. MSNBC beat CNN's numbers overall and in the 25-54 demographic. As the Times notes, both networks experienced some notable lows in May: CNN's had the worst-rated 9 p.m. primetime slot in its history, and MSNBC's primetime numbers were its worst since 2006. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.