Dramatic Fox News ratings comeback

Fox News is back on top in the cable news wars.  Two weeks ago, Fox News began to introduce its new prime-time schedule and the shift in programming, which will be complete on October 30 when Laura Ingraham and Shannon Bream launch their new shows.  Now it has regained its previous position as the #1 cable news channel.

The #1 prime-time show in recent months, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow at 9 P.M. E.T., has on most nights since September 25 been relegated to second – sometimes a distant second – place by Sean Hannity.  Last week, for example, with overall cable news ratings pumped up by breaking news coverage of the Las Vegas shootings, Hannity handily won the week against his competition on MSNBC and CNN.  Not only that, but, as TV Newser reported on October 10:

Sean Hannity had the No. 1 program of the week across all of cable news, beating rival Rachel Maddow and fellow Fox Newser Tucker Carlson both in total viewers and in the all-important [age] 25-54 demo.

Sean Hannity.

In times past, CNN, banking on its once unchallenged reputation for being the original, the oldest, and the only cable news channel for its first 16 years (1980-'96), often rose to the top during times of major breaking news, but recently, it has been coming in third to the other two news channels, breaking news events notwithstanding.

On October 3, in an analysis of the first week of Fox News's new schedule, A.J. Katz wrote at TV Newser:

It was a significant week for Fox News. Not only was it the No. 1 basic cable network in total day, but it showed off a revamped prime time lineup, with Sean Hannity assuming the network's 9 p.m. slot. Hannity, with help from some high-profile guests, got off to a very strong start. He defeated new time slot rival Rachel Maddow both in total viewers and the key news demo, en route to becoming cable news's No. 1 show of the week.

As Katz noted on October 10, Hannity has buttressed his show since it moved back an hour to 9 P.M. on September 25 by presenting a variety of high-profile political guests who have succeeded in making news on his shows.  Most recently, for example, an in-studio interview two days ago with former Trump White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon (video here) generated a number of headline stories when Bannon described his intention to lead an effort next year to primary-challenge RINOs in Congress so that they can be replaced by true conservatives dedicated to passing President Trump's MAGA agenda.

Donald J. Trump and Sean Hannity after an interview at Trump Tower, New York City during the 2016 campaign.

Tonight, Wednesday, October 11, Hannity is scheduled to welcome perhaps the top newsmaking guest: President Donald J. Trump.  Originally scheduled for October 4 but postponed when the president traveled to Las Vegas that day in the wake of the Mandalay Bay hotel shootings, tonight's sit-down with Trump will take place at the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Air National Guard Base "to discuss tax reform, immigration and other top news headlines of the day," according to an FNC news release.  Unlike most of Hannity's programs since the recent schedule shift, the hour-long conversation with the president will be prerecorded.  President Trump is scheduled to deliver a speech in Harrisburg later the same evening, which the cable news channels may also cover live.

It is assumed that Hannity, with the assist from his friend President Trump, will win the night's ratings for FNC by a wide margin.

Also helping Fox News's ratings in recent weeks is the fact that the channel has added four more hours of live news programs during weekdays for a total of 20.  In recent months, the channel broadcast only 16 hours a day live.  Fox News is strong on the weekends, too.  A new show on Sunday night, Objectified with TMZ's Harvey Levin, had the largest number of viewers of any cable news show Sunday in prime time on October 8.

Peter Barry Chowka is a widely published author and journalist.  He writes most frequently these days for American Thinker.  His website is AltMedNews.net.  Follow Peter on Twitter.