×

Fox News’ Primetime Ratings Surge After Mueller Probe Wraps

Sean Hannity always nabs one of the biggest slices of viewership in cable TV. Suddenly, his 9 p.m. hour on Fox News Channel is attracting even more people than usual.

For four days, Fox News’ primetime lineup has seen distinct rises in the average number of viewers tuning in, while rivals MSNBC and CNN have seen drops. The dynamic emerges after U.S. Attorney General William Barr delivered a summary to Congress saying Special Counsel Robert Mueller had determined no efforts of collusion took place between the campaign to elect Donald Trump U.S. President and Russia’s efforts to sway the 2016 election.

The ratings have even become a talking point on Fox News, where Hannity last night poked rivals including MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Joe Scarborough and CNN’s Don Lemon, railing against other broadcasters’ “tin-foil conspiracy theories” and pointing to “dramatic ratings decline” at his competitors.

To be sure, TV-news ratings tend to fluctuate and big moments of national import can goose viewership at any or all of the major U.S. outlets. And in these days of polarizing political battles, news that shines a positive light on red-state or blue-state heroes and causes tends to drive people in those categories to watch more avidly. But even though Fox News Channel remains the nation’s most-watched cable-news outlet, the recent surge at Fox News is out of the ordinary, because it is bringing viewership levels to highs that the primetime hosts don’t regularly obtain.

On Wednesday night, for example, Hannity’s 9 p.m. program drew an average of more than 4.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen. His show drew an average of nearly 3.17 million people in February and an average of 3.04 million in January. Tucker Carlson’s 8 p.m. show garnered an average of nearly 3.49 million people Wednesday night, compared with an average of 3.09 million in February and 2.81 million in January.

The surge takes place as Hannity has been locked in a numbers battle with his 9 p.m. rival at MSNBC, Rachel Maddow.

In January, Maddow had the biggest audience in primetime cable news, nabbing nearly 3.29 million to Hannity’s 3.04 million, and 606,000 viewers between 25 and 54 – the demographic most favored by news-programming advertisers – compared with Hannity’s 538,000. But in February, Hannity’s show proved triumphant, notching nearly 3.17 million to Maddow’s nearly 3.07 million, and 575,000 viewers between 25 and 54 to Maddow’s 549,000.

The only sure thing about TV ratings is they change every day. “Anyone who doesn’t work in cable news or gets paid to cover cable news who looks at cable news ratings should be institutionalized,” noted MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes in a Twitter post Thursday.

For the moment, however – and maybe longer – Fox News is enjoying a distinct advantage over its competitors.

More TV

  • Jody Madden Replaces Craig Rodgerson as

    Jody Madden Replaces Craig Rodgerson as CEO of VFX Firm Foundry

    Jody Madden has been upped to CEO at U.K.-based VFX outfit Foundry. She steps up having been chief product officer and replaces Craig Rodgerson, who joined the company in late 2017. Foundry was bought by U.S. tech firm Roper Technologies earlier this year in a £410 million ($509 million) deal. The London-based business provides software [...]

  • La Linea Invisible

    Mariano Barroso Shoots Basque Conflict Origins Story ‘La Linea Invisible’

    IRUN, Spain  — When- and why – do people begin to kill for a cause? Having created “What the Future Holds,” maybe the best reviewed to date of any Movistar + Original Series, Spain’s Mariano Barroso (“The Wolves of Washington”) tackles this question head on in “La Línea Invisible,” a six-part series, again from Movistar [...]

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    Writers Guild Leaders Warn Members About Contact With Fired Agents

    Leaders of the Writers Guild of America are warning members about being contacted by their former agents — asserting that such efforts are an attempt to undermine the WGA and its members. The missive, sent Tuesday from the WGA negotiating committee, came with the guild in a bitter three-month standoff with talent agents that appears [...]

  • Mike Fleiss

    ‘The Bachelor’ Creator Mike Fleiss Accused of Attacking Wife

    “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” creator Mike Fleiss has been accused of attacking his wife Laura Fleiss at their home in Hawaii on July 4, according to documents obtained by Variety. The documents show that Laura Fleiss, who is currently pregnant, filed for an emergency domestic violence restraining order against her husband after he allegedly [...]

  • James Cordon Drag Race Handmaids Tale

    Emmys Trivia: 20 Surprising Facts From 2019's Nominations

    For a show that technically wasn’t eligible at the Emmy Awards in 2019, “The Handmaid’s Tale” did quite well this year. The Hulu drama picked up 11 nominations, including major ones like outstanding directing, writing, guest actress and guest actor, thanks to a quirk in the TV Academy’s Emmy rules. As previously noted, most of [...]

  • 'Schitt's Creek' Emmy Nominations Give Boost

    'Schitt's Creek' Emmy Nominations Give Boost to Pop's Profile

    The core executive team at Pop TV expected to be disappointed, but they still gathered at the CBS-owned cable channel’s Playa Vista offices early Tuesday morning for the reveal of this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards nominations. They were not disappointed. “Schitt’s Creek,” the quirky comedy series that has punched above its weight for Pop since [...]

  • Beyonce-HOMECOMING-Netflix

    Beyoncé, Sara Bareilles Vie for First Emmys as Ramin Djawadi Looks to Reclaim Throne

    Beyoncé and Sara Bareilles could add Emmy trophies to their awards shelves this year, having been nominated in key music categories Tuesday by the Television Academy. Beyoncé’s “Homecoming” special on Netflix was nominated in six categories, and four of those include a nod for the pop superstar herself. Only one of those is in a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content