Cable News in the era of coronavirus: Skype rules as Fox News rules the cable news ratings
Viewers of the cable news channels in recent days may have noticed a change in how the talking head guest experts are presented: rather than in-studio in Washington, D.C.; in New York; or at a remote by satellite from a professional television facility, more often than not they are now on via internet video on Skype from their computers at home or in their offices.
Until recently, guests by video Skype were frowned upon by the major cable news channels because of the inconsistency of the video and audio quality and the potential loss of signal due to internet buffering. But in light of national policy suggesting that Americans shelter in place, and the cable channels' adoption of new restrictions on visitors and in social distancing in studio (even for their hosts and paid contributors), Skype and its technical sister software platforms have suddenly come to the fore.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus has been ratings gold for the three major cable news channels. For example, a news release emailed to this reporter on March 18 noted:
FOX NEWS TOPS CABLE NEWS DURING PRIMETIME COVERAGE OF THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC AND MARCH 17TH PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES
Hannity Delivers Over 1 Million Viewers in the Key A25-54 Demo, Tops all of Cable News in Both Viewership Categories
According to Nielsen Media Research, in terms of total viewers in prime time on Tuesday, March 17 (8–11 P.M. EDT), Fox news had 4,392,000 viewers compared with 3,154,000 for MSNBC and 2,207,000 for CNN. In the coveted demographic of viewers aged 25–54, the contest was much closer: Fox News had 947,000 viewers versus 825,000 for CNN and 637,000 for MSNBC. Clearly, when major news is breaking, CNN still comes in at a strong second place ahead of its competitor MSNBC.
Conservatives might take heart from the fact that Fox News — the most fair and objective mainstream media news source in reporting on a variety of issues, including the administration of President Trump — in this current red-hot news cycle of stories about the coronavirus, continues to maintain its #1 lead in the ratings.
Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran journalist who writes about politics, media, popular culture, and health care for American Thinker and other publications. Peter's website is http://peter.media. His new YouTube channel is here. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pchowka.