The ratings for January 2011 have been released, and while Fox News continues to dominate, Glenn Beck’s audience has fled in droves. Compared to January 2010, Beck has lost 40% of his total audience, and 50% of his younger viewers. Glenn Beck’s program is now the fifth most watched show on Fox News. By the numbers, Beck has lost 1.2 million viewers in a year.
In January 2010, Beck was riding high and drawing nearly 3 million viewers a night, but what a difference a year makes. In January 2011, Beck was averaging closer to 1.8 million viewers, which means that the Glenn Beck program has lost 1.2 million viewers in a year. Beck nearly doubled the rate of decline compared to Fox News as a whole. In January 2011, Fox News was down 21% in total viewers, and 31% with younger viewers. The audience is tuning out Beck’s show at a higher rate than they are turning off Fox.
The problem isn’t seasonal. The program that follows Beck at 6 PM, “Special Report With Bret Baier” had a huge month. Baier’s program was the second highest rated show in cable news behind “The O’Reilly Factor”. Sean Hannity also had a big month. His show soared to #2 in the ratings with younger viewers. Other conservative hosts are doing very well for themselves on Fox News, so it appears that ratings woes at 5 PM are strictly a Glenn Beck problem.
An example of just how mighty Beck’s struggles have become came last Friday when a special report on the crisis in Egypt drew more viewers at 5 PM than Beck’s show did the day before. On Thursday, Beck drew 1.733 million viewers for his show, but the Friday’s special report on Egypt drew 1.820 million viewers. Would anyone have ever fathomed one year ago that Fox News would have dared to bump Beck for a special report on events in a foreign country?
For the rest of last week, Beck drew 1.99 million viewers, 1.974 million viewers, and 1.9 million viewers. These numbers, along with the fact that he actually broke 2 million viewers yesterday for only the fourth time in a month actually represent an improvement, but they are a far cry from the hit that Fox News execs thought they had on their hands when Beck was challenging Bill O’Reilly for the cable news ratings crown.
It appears that Fox News has noticed Beck’s ratings decline, because in the last few days he has been turning up more often on other Fox programs. On Monday night, Beck was on Bill O’Reilly’s show. On Tuesday morning, he was on Fox and Friends. In both appearances, he was talking about Egypt. This is just a guess on my part, but I have a hunch that Fox is trying to boost Beck’s ratings by trying to make him and his show topics more relevant to the current news cycle. One of the biggest problems that Beck has run into is that since he has taken over production of his show, the program’s topics have become extremely limited, and often have little relationship to events that are currently in the news.
Consider that in January, MSNBC was the only network to show ratings growth. MSNBC grew at 21% in total viewers and 25% with younger viewers. Keith Olbermann who isn’t even on MSNBC anymore was up 6% for the year. Yet, Fox News continues to stick with Glenn Beck.
I wrote last week that I thought Glenn Beck was still a valuable brand name for Fox, so I doubted that the network would make a change, but 2011 might be a make or break year for Beck. If his show keeps shedding viewers, it is possible that Glenn Beck may be looking at the beginning of the end of his Fox News career.