What We’re Not Watching: Fox News Channel’s Viewership Drops Sharply Following Tucker Carlson Firing

By STEVEN HERBERT, City News Service
Published on May 4, 2023


Photo Credit: Fox News Channel

Fox News Channel’s prime-time viewership in its first week without Tucker Carlson dropped 29.6% from the previous week, but did face competition it did not face a week earlier.

Fox News Channel averaged 1.449 million viewers for its prime-time programming between April 24 and Sunday, third among cable networks, according to live-plus-same-day figures released Tuesday by Nielsen. It averaged 2.058 million viewers the previous week when it did not have to face coverage of the NFL draft for two nights.

Fox News Channel had three of the week’s 20 most-watched cable programs — two editions of “Hannity” and the first edition of “Fox News Tonight,” the network’s replacement for “Tucker Carlson Tonight” in the weeknight 8 p.m. time slot. It had eight of the top 20 the previous week — five broadcasts of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and three of “Hannity.”

In Carlson’s final week before being fired, the final five editions of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” accounted for each of Fox News Channel’s five largest prime-time audiences, while the only prime-time cable programs to draw more viewers than even the least-watched edition were NBA playoff games.

The week’s most-watched prime-time cable program was ESPN’s coverage of the first round of the NFL draft Thursday which averaged 5.622 million viewers, seventh among all prime-time programs.

NBA playoff coverage made TNT the most-watched cable network for the second consecutive week, averaging 3.178 million viewers. The combination of the NFL draft and NBA playoff coverage lifted ESPN one spot to second among cable networks, averaging 2.26 million viewers, 50.8% more than its 1.499 million average the previous week.

MSNBC was fourth for the second consecutive week, averaging 1.171 million viewers, 5.4% more than its 1.111 million average the previous week.

The cable prime-time top 20 consisted of ESPN’s coverage of the first round the NFL draft, 10 NBA playoff games — eight on TNT and two on ESPN; Friday’s 10-minute NBA pregame show, “NBA Courtside” on ESPN; two NHL playoff games on TNT; the MSNBC news and opinion program, “The Rachel Maddow Show”; History’s long-running chronicle of a search for treasure on a Canadian island, “The Curse of Oak Island”; three Fox News Channel weeknight political talk shows — two broadcasts of “Hannity” and the first of “Fox News Tonight”; and History’s UFO investigation series, “The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch.”

Coverage of the first round of the NFL draft was the week’s most- watched prime-time program, with a combined 11.4 million viewers watching on ESPN, ABC, NFL Network, ESPN Deportes and digital channels, an 11% increase over the 10.3 million viewers for the first round of the 2022 draft.

The most-watched individual prime-time program was the two-hour NBC special, “Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love,” which averaged 7.597 million viewers.

CBS had each of the next four most-watched programs — “Young Sheldon,” “60 Minutes,” “FBI” and “Ghosts” — to be the most-watched network for the seventh consecutive week, the 10th time in 11 weeks and 12th time in the last 14, averaging 3.87 million viewers.

The only times CBS has not finished first in the past 14 weeks were the weeks of Feb. 6-13, when Fox aired Super Bowl LVII, and March 6-12, when ABC aired the Oscars.

ABC was second for the third consecutive week following four consecutive third-place finishes, averaging 3.26 million viewers. Its most- watched program was “American Idol,” sixth for the week, averaging 5.921 million viewers.

NBC was third among the broadcast networks for the third consecutive week after four consecutive second-place finishes, averaging 3.19 million viewers.

Fox averaged 1.87 million viewers for its 15 hours, 21 minutes of prime-time programming. The procedural drama “9-1-1” was its most-watched program, averaging 4.534 million viewers, 16th for the week and 13th among non- sports programming. Each of the six original episodes of “9-1-1” to air in 2023 have been Fox’s most-watched prime-time program of the week.

The CW averaged 380,000 viewers for its 14 hours of programming. The superhero drama “Superman & Lois” was its most-watched program for the fifth time in the six weeks it has aired this season, averaging 614,000 viewers, 152nd among broadcast programs. Its overall ranking was not available.

The 20 most-watched prime-time programs consisted of “Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love”; six CBS scripted programs, its alternative series “Survivor” and news magazine “60 Minutes”; the two editions of “American Idol”; coverage of the first round of the NFL draft on ESPN and ABC; NBC’s singing competition “The Voice” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”; four NBA playoff games — two each on ESPN and TNT; and “9-1-1.”

“The Diplomat” was Netflix’s most-watched title for the second consecutive week, with viewers watching the eight episodes of the Keri Russell- starring thriller for 66.46 million hours in its first full week of release, 15.6% more than the 57.48 million hours the previous week when they were available for four days.

The action thriller “AKA” was Netflix’s most-watched movie with 32.53 million viewing hours in its first three days of release.

The most-watched Spanish-language program was the April 25 episode of the Univision telenovela “El Amor Invencible,” which averaged 1.706 million viewers, 58th among broadcast programs. Its overall ranking was not available.

Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network for the 38th consecutive week and 176th time in 178 weeks, averaging 1.24 million viewers. Telemundo was second, averaging 860,000 viewers, followed by UniMas (400,000) and Estrella TV (90,000).

ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” was the most-watched nightly newscast for the 177th time in 178 weeks and 229th time in 231 weeks, averaging 7.262 million viewers.

“NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” was second, averaging 6.454 million viewers. The “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell” was third, averaging 4.791 million viewers.

The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were the NBC special “Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love”; CBS’ “Young Sheldon,” 60 Minutes, “FBI,” and “Ghosts”; the Sunday broadcast of ABC’s “American Idol”; ESPN’s coverage of the first round of the NFL draft; CBS’  “FBI: International” and “Survivor”; and NBC’s “The Voice.”

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