Despite the departure of Bill O’Reilly amid accusations of sexual harassment, Fox News managed to finish No. 1 in primetime for the second quarter of the year. Fox News fended off a strong challenge from the resurgent MSNBC, thanks to a relatively strong performance by Tucker Carlson who replaced O’Reilly in April.
Even though Carlson lost some of The O’Reilly Factor’s overall audience, he bested O’Reilly in the key 25-54 year-old demographic, resulting in a 21 percent jump in ad rates, according to The Wall Street Journal.
This performance surprised many observers–read liberals, who were confident the turmoil at Fox would lead to surrendering it’s 15-year grip on the top spot.
Fox’s good ratings news is tempered though by the huge gains made by former cable news also-ran MSNBC, which has used it’s anti-Trump rhetoric to significantly close the gap between the network and Fox News.
In the key demo Fox News averaged 472,000 viewers, MSNBC 389,000 and CNN 370,000.
MSNBC’s resurgence has been fueled by a 72 percent increase in the 25-54 year-old demo thanks to renewed interest in Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell, who have taken up the anti-Trump mantle and given liberals and leftists alike a channel where they can commiserate about the Trump administration.
The next test will be the third quarter where the new Fox lineup will have a full quarter’s performance to measure against MSNBC to see if it truly has steadied the network after what has been a tumultuous year.