Data shows Fox’s Wednesday 8 p.m. time slot drew considerably fewer viewers than the prior Wednesday

In the wake of Tucker Carlson’s sudden departure this week, ratings for Fox News’s new 8 p.m. weekday show appear to be on the decline as viewership again tumbled on Wednesday night.

Data published by ratings service Nielsen show that Fox drew some 1.33 million viewers for substitute host Brian Kilmeade and “Fox News Tonight” in the timeslot that Carlson once occupied. That places the network at No. 2 behind MSNBC’s Chris Hayes.

Carlson would routinely draw 3 million or more viewers. Last Wednesday, on April 19, Carlson drew 3.05 million viewers, meaning Kilmeade’s show this Wednesday is down some 56 percent, the data show, according to multiple news outlets.

For all of 2022, Carlson averaged above 3 million viewers, second to Fox’s ‘The Five” on the network. Perhaps more significantly, Carlson performed well with the key 25–54 age demographic, netting some 443,000 viewers in that group during the last quarter.

Sean Hannity’s 9 p.m. ET timeslot, which used to come after Carlson’s show, drew 1.7 million viewers on Wednesday, according to Nielsen. That, too, represents a significant drop from the 2.6 million viewers Hannity’s longtime show brought in a week before that.

As for Carlson, he posted a brief video to his personal Twitter page at 8 p.m. on Wednesday. In about a day’s time, it generated more than 20 million views and 73 million impressions.

When reached for comment about Fox News’ primetime ratings, a spokesperson noted that Nielsen data shows Fox led all cable news channels on Monday and Tuesday across the total day and primetime viewers, along with the coveted 25–54 demographic. A statement issued by Fox to The Associated Press said that it has been cable news’ most-watched network for 21 years with its team “trusted more by viewers than any other news source.”

Earlier this week, a large number of social media users and some lawmakers signaled they won’t be watching Fox News in the future. Kilmeade received a taste of that social media-driven backlash on Monday when he wrote: “Join me tonight at 8 pm!” on Twitter and users said they would not.“No chance … cancelled cable today,” one wrote as another stated: “Not in a million years!”

“Not a chance in hell ya sellout,” one person wrote in response to Kilmeade’s post. Another wrote: “I’d rather watch grass grow.”

Another, political commentator Dennis Michael Lynch, wrote to Kilmeade: “If you were a real man, you would have told @FoxNews you couldn’t do it, wouldn’t do it, and take a stand. But I know you too well. You need the attention and would walk over anyone to get it.”

Despite that, Kilmeade started the program on Monday with a brief reference to Carlson’s exit.  “As you probably have heard, Fox News and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways. I wish Tucker the best, I’m great friends with Tucker and always will be,” he said.

“But right now, it’s time for Fox News Tonight, so let’s get started!” Kilmeade continued.

The ratings slump echoes what happened at Fox following the 2020 election, when many viewers angered by the network’s Election Night declaration that Joe Biden had won Arizona took then-President Donald Trump’s advice to seek alternatives. In another similarity to 2020, Carlson’s departure also sparked increased ratings at conservative network Newsmax and host Eric Bolling, who hosts a show in the same 8 p.m. Eastern slot.

For example, Bolling had 510,000 viewers Wednesday night, compared to 168,000 on Wednesday a week ago, Nielsen said. On Tuesday, Bolling had 562,000 viewers, up from 122,000 the same day a week earlier.

The challenge for Newsmax will be making it last. Fox surged again following Biden’s inauguration as president, and Newsmax couldn’t keep up the momentum, the numbers show.

Details about Carlson’s departure were not clear, as both Carlson and Fox News have not issued any statements about why he suddenly left, if he was fired or forced out, or whether it was related to a lawsuit that was filed against Carlson, his producer, and Fox News by a former Fox employee who alleged she was mistreated. Fox, in a news release, said that it will use a rotating cast to carry out hosting duties for the 8 p.m. ET timeslot until a permanent host is named.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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