Fox News Finds It’s Back in Familiar Spot: Prime-Time Lead

After all the chatter about Fox News’s falling ratings and the rise of far-right competitors, the Fox Corp. channel found itself leading in prime time among cable news networks again in February, a position it has had for 19 years.

Viewership of the Rupert Murdoch-controlled network tumbled after the election, which saw Republican Donald Trump lose to Democrat Joe Biden. Conservative audiences tuned in to Fox rivals Newsmax and One America News Network, as many Trump supporters promoted the idea that the election had been stolen.

Rival CNN, meanwhile, had its most-watched day ever on Jan. 6, when Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

With Biden now in the White House, Fox News has returned to its regular position, with 2.47 million viewers in prime time, compared with 2.19 million for Comcast Corp.’s MSNBC and 1.69 million at AT&T Inc.’s CNN. Newsmax, which also subscribes to Nielsen ratings, averaged about 241,000 viewers a night for the month.

All three of the big cable news networks have seen a decline in viewers since their highs around Election Day. MSNBC, which has been broadcasting news conferences daily by Biden Press Secretary Jennifer Psaki, led in total viewers throughout the day last month. It and CNN were up year-over-year in February, while Fox saw a decline.

CNN’s prime-time drop since Election Day has been the steepest. Still, the network said it had its most-viewed month ever in February and led in the 25-to-54-year-old demographic that is most popular with advertisers.

Fox News said Tuesday that it hired former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany as an on-air commentator. The shares were up 9% to $37.95 at the close, bringing their gain for the year so far to 30%.

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