Why this is a unsafe time for Fox News

Fox News sign in studio

In a development that has sparked murmurs throughout the cable news business, Fox News in recent weeks has regularly finished in last place among advertising-friendly viewers between the ages of 25 and 54, or "demo" viewers, as they're known in the industry. The NBC-owned network led by "The Rachel Maddow Show", now the No. 1 show in cable news with an average of 2.9 million viewers last week, became the go-to destination for viewers transfixed by the unfolding investigation into the White House scandal.

The NBA playoffs made TNT the week's most popular cable network.

At 8 p.m., Fox News' "Tucker Carlson Tonight" lost to both CNN's Anderson Cooper and MSNBC's "All In" with Chris Hayes.

When Fox News officially announced in an April 19 statement that veteran anchor Bill O'Reilly had been fired, "The O'Reilly Factor" stood alone atop the cable news ratings war - along with the rest of the "fair and balanced" network. Fox News viewers may still be expecting more substance in prime time.

After parting ways with the most-watched personalities in cable news and firing its founder over allegations of sexual harassment, the conservative-oriented Fox dropped to third place last week in prime time among the viewers that advertisers court, a spot it hasn't occupied for nearly 17 years. Four MSNBC programs were number one for the week in total viewers in their respective time periods: "The Rachel Maddow Show", "Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell", "The 11th Hour" and the midnight re-air of "The Rachel Maddow Show". (That's in the demo and total viewers.) But with CNN and MSNBC on its heels in different dayparts, this last week will prove to be make-or-break for all parties.

Fox's numbers are already rebounding this week, however. Added CNN's Brian Stelter, "This is an extraordinary moment in the cable news race".

Also, Variety points out that Fox News was third place in primetime in the demo for five days straight, "the longest streak at No. 3 the network has had in that measure in 17 years".

On Monday, a night when Trump was not the big story, Fox News was in first place in prime time based on preliminary ratings, while CNN led in the 25-to-54 age group. Fox News came to prominence during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton and got a second-wind during the Obama administration, Tyndall said.

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