- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Fox News floundered in the ratings among 25- to 54-year-olds last week on the heels of a record-setting first quarter as audiences within the coveted age range tuned to the competition for prime-time cable news coverage.

More viewers between the ages of 25 and 54 watched MSNBC during the 8 to 11 p.m time slot Monday through Friday last week than CNN or Fox News, Nielsen Research said Monday, as reported by AdWeek — about 611,000 average nightly viewers compared to CNN’s 589,000 and Fox’s 497,000.

The latest numbers mark the best week for MSNBC’s prime-time programming in its 21-year history with respect to audiences in the age range most important to advertisers. Fox News, meanwhile, finished in third place in that category five consecutive days for the first time since June 2000, AdWeek reported.

Despite placing third in prime-time among 25- to 54-year-olds, Fox News still bested both MSNBC and CNN in terms of total viewership last week: Fox News attracted an average of 2.209 million daily viewers last week, compared to 1.857 million for MSNBC and 1.426 million for CNN.

In March, Fox News boasted the highest-rated quarter in cable news history after drawing in an average of 1.72 million daytime viewers and a nightly prime-time audience of about 2.89 million. Scandals have since befallen Fox News and its anchors, however, resulting in a recent prime-time revamping potentially to blame for the latest lackluster ratings.

Fox News fired longtime anchor Bill O’Reilly last month amid a series of sexual harassment allegations and subsequently shuffled fellow conservative pundit Tucker Carlson into the 8 p.m. time slot previously held by “The O’Reilly Factor.”

Fox has also moved “The Five” from 5 to 9 p.m., putting the program and its rotating cast of co-hosts head-to-head with MSNBC’s wildly successful “The Rachel Maddow Show,” last week’s most-watched cable news show with an average audience of 2.9 million viewers, according to Nielsen data.

Fox News host Sean Hannity, meanwhile, attracted controversy in his own right this month for repeatedly peddling a conspiracy theory involving the death of Seth Rich, a slain Democratic National Convention staffer who was murdered last year in Washington, D.C.

Fox News retracted an article about Rich from its website Tuesday amid complaints from the victim’s family, and Mr. Hannity announced hours later that he will no longer discuss the murder “out of respect for the family’s wishes — for now.”

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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