"It's a bloodbath": Fox News loses more than half of audience after axing Tucker Carlson

It's not just Tucker's slot — Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham's ratings are falling too

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Staff Writer

Published April 28, 2023 2:25PM (EDT)

Fox News host Tucker Carlson (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Fox News host Tucker Carlson (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Hundreds of thousands of Fox News viewers have switched off the channel after the network fired top primetime host Tucker Carlson on Monday.

Substitute host Brian Kilmeade garnered 1.33 million audience members during the 8 p.m. Eastern slot on Wednesday, down 56% from the 3.05 million viewers who tuned in to watch Carlson last Wednesday, according to Nielsen ratings flagged by the Associated Press.

The dip in viewership allowed MSNBC's Chris Hayes to overtake Fox in ratings, a popularity contest that Carlson used to dominate.

The conservative host had an average audience of 3.03 million people for all of 2022, making it the second most popular program on cable television after Fox's "The Five." 

When approached for comment, Fox sent a statement saying that for 21 years it's been cable news' most-watched network and has a team "trusted more by viewers than any other news source."

Media reporter Brian Stelter noted in a tweet on Thursday that Fox's audience ratings plummeted from the 2.65 million watching Carlson's final show last Friday to 2.59 million on Monday, 1.70 million on Tuesday and 1.33 million on Wednesday.

Former Fox News host Megyn Kelly, who left the network in 2017, pointed out that the problem for Fox is even bigger than the drop-off from Carlson's last show.

"You can't compare Tucker's Fri night ratings to this week's Mon/Tue. (Fridays in prime are where ratings go to die.) Compare his last Mon/Tue to this week's Mon/Tue," she wrote. "It's a bloodbath: they lost HALF their audience."

According to Mediaite, Carlson's Monday, April 17, show had 3.174 million total viewers, including 445,000 in the 25-54 demographic. Tuesday, April 18's show drew even larger numbers, receiving 3.223 million total viewers and 481,000 in the demo.

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Matthew Gertz, a senior fellow for progressive media watchdog Media Matters for America, expanded on the viewership drop, saying that Fox lost 65% of Carlson's audience in its target demographic between this Wednesday's show and Carlson's last week.

"Tucker garnered 3.05 million viewers last Wednesday -- Fox lost 56% of that audience in a week. It's an even worse drop-off in the demo, 65%," he tweeted.

Gertz added that Fox's conservative media rivals were attempting to take advantage of Carlson's removal by swooping up the network's lost viewers while Trump supporters campaign to "Cancel Fox News." 

"The hit was broader than Tucker's show," also impacting the viewership of Fox host's Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham's programs, he explained: "...Hannity and Ingraham are both down 33% or more in total audience and more than 40% in the demo."

In the aftermath of Carlson's termination, viewership for conservative network Newsmax's 8 p.m. show, hosted by Eric Bolling, soared. 

On Wednesday night, Bolling's show had 510,000 audience members, up from 168,000 the Wednesday prior, Nielsen told AP, adding that Bolling's 122,000 viewers from last Tuesday shot up to 562,000 on the same day this week.

In lieu of what would have been a regular Wednesday night appearance on Fox for Carlson, the former anchor shared a video to Twitter at 8 p.m. admonishing the "completely irrelevant" debates aired on TV.

"Both political parties and their donors have reached consensus on what benefits them and they actively collude to shut down any conversation about it," he said.

His post has garnered more than 22 million views on social media as of Friday afternoon.

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Tatyana Tandanpolie is a staff writer at Salon. Born and raised in central Ohio, she moved to New York City in 2018 to pursue degrees in Journalism and Africana Studies at New York University. She is currently based in her home state and has previously written for local Columbus publications, including Columbus Monthly, CityScene Magazine and The Columbus Dispatch.

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