Hundreds of thousands of Fox News viewers are reacting to Tucker Carlson’s firing by abandoning the network in his old time slot — at least temporarily.
Fox drew 1.33 million viewers for substitute host Brian Kilmeade in the 8 p.m. Eastern hour on Wednesday night, putting the network second to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes in a competition Carlson used to dominate, the Nielsen company said.
That’s down 56% from the 3.05 million viewers Carlson reached last Wednesday, Nielsen said. For all of 2022, Carlson averaged 3.03 million viewers, second only to Fox’s “The Five” as the most popular program on cable television.
Carlson offered his own alternative to Kilmeade on Wednesday, posting a two-minute monologue on Twitter at 8 p.m. By Thursday afternoon, that video had been viewed 62.7 million times, according to Twitter.
Kilmeade had 1.7 million viewers on Tuesday and 2.59 million on Monday, when he told people who hadn’t already heard the news that Carlson would no longer be there.
Carlson had 2.65 million viewers on Friday for what he didn’t know at the time would be his last show on Fox. He was fired on Monday with no explanation given publicly, although there are no shortage of theories — including a former employee’s lawsuit that cited a toxic work atmosphere at his show, offensive statements by Carlson that came out as part of the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit against Fox and his embrace of political conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6 insurrection.
The ratings slump echoes what happened at Fox following the 2020 election, when many viewers angered by the network’s crucial election night declaration that Joe Biden had won Arizona followed then-President Donald Trump’s advice to seek alternatives. That caused tremendous angst behind the scenes at Fox, which was illustrated in documents released as part of the Dominion case.
Asked for comment, Fox responded with a statement noting that Fox has been cable news’ most-watched network for 21 years with its team “trusted more by viewers than any other news source.”
In the wake of Carlson’s firing, viewing at the conservative network Newsmax has shot up for Eric Bolling, who hosts a show in the same 8 p.m. Eastern slot.
For example, Bolling had 510,000 viewers Wednesday night, compared to 168,000 on Wednesday a week ago, Nielsen said. On Tuesday, Bolling had 562,000 viewers, up from 122,000 the same day a week earlier.
The challenge for Newsmax will be making it last. Fox surged again following Biden’s inauguration as president, and Newsmax couldn’t keep up the momentum.