Fox News’ ‘Special Report’ Notches More Viewers In Tough Time Period

Evening newscast makes use of social media to reach audience in new ways

Fox News Special Report

Bret Baier is enjoying a ratings uptick in a difficult time slot.

The woes of the 6 p.m. evening newscast are well-known. As more would-be viewers find themselves working later or commuting farther, tuning in to a summation of the day’s events proves more difficult. And besides, with news available via mobile device or the click of a mouse, the format brings in fewer viewers than it did decades ago.

Despite those ongoing trends, Baier’s “Special Report with Bret Baier” saw its ratings increase between the third and fourth quarter of 2013. According to Nielsen, an average of 350,000 viewers in the 25-to—54 demographic favored by advertisers in news programming watched the program in the fourth quarter of last year, according to Nielsen, compared with an average of 279,000 in the third quarter, marking an increase of 25.4%. Among total viewers, “Special Report” attracted an average of 2.2 million in the fourth quarter, according to Nielsen, compared with an average of 1.87 million in the third quarter, marking an increase of 17.6%.

The increase comes as “Special Report” has started to rely more heavily on social media. The show has hosted “hangouts” on Google Plus during the presidential debates and teamed up with Twitter at various times last year. In September, “Special Report with Bret Baier” started a partnership with Microsoft’s Bing Pulse that allows viewers to cast a vote during the show’s panel discussion. Baier hosts an online program every Wednesday at 7 p.m. and uses his blog, “The Daily Bret” to make a personal connection with his viewers.

The audience for “Special Report” is smaller than that turning in to any of the traditional evening newscasts on NBC, ABC, and CBS. In the fourth quarter, NBC’s “Nightly News” drew an average of 2.28 million viewers in the demo and more than 9 million overall. ABC’s “World News” attracted an average of more than 1.98 million in the demo and about 7.96 million overall. And CBS’ “Evening News” drew an average of 1.67 million in the demo and an average of nearly 6.98 million overall. All three broadcast-network newscasts showed audience increases between the third and fourth quarters, though their fourth-quarter numbers are down when compared to the first quarter –a trend that has been ongoing for years.