The Cable News Landscape is Changing As Younger Viewers Move Beyond Traditional News
You still watching? For the average millennial or Gen Z, probably not.
Cable news has been under pressure for years — and recent events have shined a light on the toxic culture and controversies among cable networks.
- On Monday, Fox News fired Tucker Carlson — who runs the highest-rated prime-time show on cable TV outside of sports.
- How much can firing one man hurt a $16B company? About a ~$500M reduction in Fox’s market cap.
Per Axios, inside sources say Carlson’s layoff is related to pre-trial discovery materials from the Dominion lawsuit that implicated him.
This week, CNN also fired host Don Lemon — who was accused of misogynistic practices in a Variety article released this month.
Fox dominates cable news
Fox has been the top-rated cable news channel for 20 years straight — and continues to expand its lead:
- In 2022, 92 of 100 cable news shows were Fox programs — with Carlson’s 8 PM prime-time show averaging over 3M viewers nightly, more than MSNBC and CNN combined.
- That growth coincided with programming becoming more “boisterous and opinionated,” per Axios’ Sara Fischer — and a decline in the public’s trust in mass media.
But news media analyst Andrew Tyndall said Fox would be fine without Carlson as “its viewers watch the channel, not the personality” (BBG). And that’s not the biggest problem that Fox should worry about…
The future of news — is not cable
In 2021, the median age of a Fox prime-time viewer was 56.2 years — and that was the youngest compared to other networks like CBS, NBC and ABC. Younger generations are consuming news differently:
- 71% of those aged 16-40 get their daily news from social media.
- 44% of Gen Z never receive news from traditional sources like cable TV or newspapers.
In recent years, Fox has pushed into other verticals, including lifestyle content, streaming, sports betting and web3 projects — acquiring personal finance platform Credible, and ad-supported streaming service Tubi for hundreds of millions of dollars.
But it’s unlikely that a $100M investment into a blockchain experiment will be the solution to Fox’s problems.