The reshuffling that has occurred at Fox News in recent months, from firings, resignations and changes in programming times, is a testament to the power of public opinion and ratings — and the power of management changes.
The network’s most recent move to push Sean Hannity, the staunchest conservative in Fox’s arsenal, back to 9 p.m. against the likes of his far-left MSNBC counterpart, Rachel Maddow, has proven to be a genius move for ratings.
In the first week of the head-to-head battle between Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow, the conservative heavyweight drew significantly higher ratings than his liberal counterpart.
Fox News moved Hannity’s show from 10 p.m. to 9 p.m. as part of a broader shakeup of its prime-time line-up, designed in part to counter a dramatic ratings surge by rival MSNBC, led by Maddow, the biggest ratings winner of the Trump era.
Hannity pulled out all the stops, bringing in Steve Bannon, Bill O’Reilly, Paul Ryan and Rush Limbaugh to boost his numbers. It appears to have worked: The Fox News pundit pulled in an average of 3,498,000 viewers from Monday through Thursday, with 713,000 in the key adult 25-54 demographic, according to early Nielsen figures.
Maddow averaged 2,649,000 viewers, with 599,000 adults 25-54. CNN’s 9 p.m. hour — which usually features Anderson Cooper’s “AC360,” but this week had two special town halls — finished third, with 1,173,000 viewers and 416,000 in the key demographic.
Hannity’s big numbers allow Fox News to claim bragging rights and, for the moment, grab back the 9 p.m. crown from MSNBC.
A media analyst, commenting on the Hannity move, noted CNN is the primary casualty in this reshuffle. For conservatives, this should be a welcome sign.
According to Brian Wieser, a senior analyst at Pivotal Research, if anyone should be worried, it’s CNN. Given the general growth in the cable news audience, he said, “CNN is significantly underperforming, Fox News is performing roughly in line, and MSNBC is growing dramatically.”
Let’s see if Fox News and Hannity can keep up this momentum for the foreseeable future.
[Note: This article was written by Zachary Smith]