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Tucker Carlson’s Former Fox News Time Slot Ratings Drop 50% Under Replacement Hosts

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Since Tucker Carlson’s surprise ouster from Fox News just over three weeks ago, viewership on the cable news channel has cut in half during its 8 p.m. hour, which has been replaced with “Fox News Tonight,” which will rotate though network contributors until naming a final successor.

Whereas Carlson’s second to last week on the network from April 10 through April 14 averaged 3.19 million total viewers and his last week on the network from April 17 through April 21 averaged 3.02 million total viewers, the three weeks since rotating hosts took over the 8 p.m. hour have averaged 1.53 million total viewers in the timeslot, according to Nielsen live plus same-day figures, marking a 52% and 49.3% decrease in total viewership, respectively.

The network has been rotating through weekly hosts before deciding on its permanent host, with the first being Brian Kilmeade, the second being Lawrence Jones and the third being Kayleigh McEnany, all of whom have completed their week-long anchoring duties. This week will be anchored by “Fox & Friends Weekend” co-host Will Cain.

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So far Kilmeade, who subbed in for the week following Tucker’s abrupt exit — including the Monday that the announcement shook the cable news world — is leading the charge ratings-wise, with the highest total average viewers and the largest viewership among the key cable demographic of adults 25-54. Kilmeade brought in 1.65 million total viewers on average during his week hosting, while Jones followed closely in second place with 1.51 million total viewers on average and McEnany came in third place for total viewers with 1.42 million total viewers.

Kilmeade maintains his lead in the demo with 162,800 viewers in the advertising demo on average for his week hosting. This time, however, McEnany edged her way to second place with 146,800 viewers in the demo during the timeslot while Jones came in third place with an average of 142,000 viewers in the demo.

It’s worth noting that Kilmeade’s week of hosting might have been boosted by the high-profile attention stirred up by Carlson’s departure from the network, as viewers might have tuned in on that Monday evening to see if Kilmeade would address the exit — which he did.

Whereas the broadcast on Monday, April 24 brought in 2.597 million total viewers on average — almost on par with the 2.646 million viewers brought in by Carlson’s previous Friday night broadcast — viewership decreased by the Tuesday as 1.7 million viewers tuned into Kilmeade’s second evening on air. Viewership continued to fall for the rest of the week, with Wednesday, April 26 averaging 1.3 million viewers, Thursday averaging 1.5 million viewers and Friday drawing in 1.2 million viewers.

Brian Kilmeade and Lawrence Jones (Courtesy of Fox News)
Brian Kilmeade and Lawrence Jones (Courtesy of Fox News)

Likewise, Kilmeade’s demo figures at the top of the week were also likely elevated by the controversy surrounding Carlson, as Monday drew in 294,000 viewers in the demo — just north of Carlson’s Friday demo viewership of 270,000 but still south of Carlson’s average weekday figures. Similarly, demo viewership also dropped throughout the week as Kilmeade hosted, with Tuesday receiving 149,000 viewers in the demo and Wednesday bringing in 124,000 demo viewers, while Thursday drew in 136,000 demo viewers and Friday saw a demo viewership of 111,000.

For Jones, who hosted the second week of the 8 p.m. hour post Carlson from May 1 through May 5, ratings remained relatively steady throughout the week as Jones took the No. 2 spot among the rotating hosts in terms of total viewers with an average viewership of 1.51 million total viewers. Jones averaged the lowest demo viewership of the three rotating hosts so far with an average of 142,000 viewers in the demo, with Friday, May 5 slipping to 90,000 viewers in the demo — lower than CNN’s “Anderson Cooper Tonight’s” demo viewership of 99,000 and MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes'” demo viewership of 145,000 during the same hour.

As viewers tuned in to see McEnany take the 8 p.m. reins in the third week since Carlson’s ouster from May 8 to May 12, the former White House Press Secretary’s first evening as host on Monday, May 8 had the highest total viewership and demo viewership with 1.6 million total viewers and 161,000 viewers in the demo. The rest of the week remained steady as McEnany solidified her spot in third place for total viewers with 1.42 million total viewers and scored second place in the demo with an average 146,800 viewers in the demo tuning into the hour.

McEnany’s week appeared to be relatively unaffected by CNN’s explosive town hall with Donald Trump on Wednesday, May 10 that scored 3.3 million total viewers for CNN, though Wednesday’s Fox News’ figures are comparable to those of Friday, May 12 as both dates experienced the same demo viewership of 136,000 while and Wednesday’s total viewership of 1.35 just exceeds Friday’s total viewership of 1.3.

Kayleigh McEnany (Getty Images)
Kayleigh McEnany (Getty Images)

So far, Cain’s first night of hosting the hour on Monday, May 15 drew in 1.6 million total viewers — south of Kilmeade’s total viewership average of 1.65 million total viewers — and 169,000 viewers in the demo — just above Kilmeade’s average demo viewership of 162,800.

Despite the changes, Fox News has maintained its top spot as the highest-rated network in primetime and total day across the board in viewers and in the demo.

On Wednesday morning, the Drudge Report reported the network would further shake up the primetime lineup with Sean Hannity taking the 8 p.m. while Jesse Watters and Greg Gutfeld are transitioned to primetime spots.

“No decision has been made on a new primetime lineup and there are multiple scenarios under consideration,” a Fox News spokesperson told TheWrap on Wednesday.

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