Fox News battles back after rough start to win 2021 cable news ratings race

After a difficult stretch stemming from the contentious aftermath of 2020 presidential election, Fox News made an impressive comeback from third place in cable news ratings earlier this year to finish in first place to close out 2021, as Mediaite reports.

The achievement will mark the sixth year running in which the network ranked first of all basic cable channels as well as the 20th year in a row as the top ranking cable news outlet.

Reasons for the remarkable turnaround, according to Mediaite, were the start of a new administration, a wave of hot topics — including the southern border crisis, opposition to critical race theory in schools, and inflation — and the popularity of its primetime opinion programming lineup.

Despite its reputation among some as the province mainly of rock-ribbed Republican and/or conservative viewers, statistics from Nielsen/MRI Fusion revealed that Fox News actually draws a far more politically diverse audience than its competitors, as Mediaite pointed out.

Fox News habitually attracted more Democrat eyes than CNN and brought in more independent viewers than CNN as well as MSNBC, with 29% of all liberals watching its offerings during the period between April and August and just 24% of conservatives watching MSNBC and 14% watching CNN, by way of contrast.

A major key to Fox News’ success this year was the strength of its weeknight opinion programming that included Tucker Carlson Tonight – the year’s top-rated cable news show – as well as weekday talk panel program The Five, Hannity, and the Ingraham Angle.

This year’s launch of late-night comedy show Gutfeld! brought additional depth to the Fox News lineup, regularly besting broadcast network staples such as The Tonight Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live as well as The Daily Show on cable’s Comedy Central.

CNN’s woes went beyond slumping ratings this year to include a particularly damaging scandal in which its top-rated primetime host Chris Cuomo was ultimately fired over involvement in attempts to discredit women who accused his brother – former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo – of sexual misconduct.

Whether Fox News’ ratings success will prompt any soul-searching or course correction among executives at the network’s primary cable news competitors remains to be seen, but considering that 2022 is a midterm election year in which the stakes for the country’s future could not be higher, competition for viewers is all but certain to heat up.