NEW YORK CITY — An exterior view of the Fox News logo at the network’s NYC headquarters. (Photo by … [+] Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Fox News Channel has been piling up records and milestones in recent weeks, including an historic amount of viewership for its panel talk show The Five. But on Tuesday, the network announced an even bigger feat:
The latest cable news ratings show that, every year since January 2002, Fox has been #1 in total day and primetime viewership as well as #1 in the key 25-54 demo. A 20-year record that, while not only unprecedented across the cable news landscape, is also likely to continue this year — thanks to stories that promise more ratings dominance for the network, like the midterm elections this fall.
“For us, we’ve always been very aware of our audience,” Fox News Media president Jay Wallace told me about the newly released ratings data. “A lot of people out there are producing for Twitter — and I’m not saying Twitter isn’t a tool. But some people think Twitter is what everyone is talking about and is the only thing that’s out there.”
He went on to attribute Fox’s 20-year streak of cable news ratings dominance to “compelling talent and knowing your audience. And that’s a lot harder than it sounds.” 
Other recent Fox News milestones in this same vein include The Five managing to become the most-watched show in cable news — without airing in primetime, and also while squeezing past Fox’s ratings king, Tucker Carlson. In fact, the top five most-watched shows in cable news are all Fox properties. And the network’s audience is also less ideologically homogenous than people might assume.
Nielsen MRI Fusion data shows that while Fox News, of course, draws a majority of the conservative audience on cable news (73%), perhaps even more surprising: Fox actually commands a larger share of liberals in its audience than both CNN and MSNBC (39% tuning into Fox, with a near equal split between the latter: 31% to MSNBC, 30% to CNN).
Last month alone, Fox had 95 of the top 100 cable news telecasts for the month, including the top 91 cable news telecasts. In terms of The Five, it’s currently delivering nearly 4 million viewers in the 5PM ET timeslot. The Five co-host Jesse Watters also just got his own primetime show, Jesse Watters Primetime, at 7PM ET — and it debuted to strong ratings in recent days, averaging around 3.4 million viewers in its debut week.
On a recent broadcast of The Five, Watters remarked at one point that “disarray on the left” is good for the Fox’s ratings. The Five actually finished last month as the highest-rated program in cable news on the basis of total viewers for the second consecutive month, delivering a little more than 3.5 million total viewers.
NEW YORK, NY – Jesse Watters, co-host of “The Five” on the Fox News Channel. (Photo by John … [+] Lamparski/Getty Images)
Continued Wallace: Fox News has also “been very good about keeping our eye on production. Our screen always looks dynamic. These are small things, but we’re storytellers — it’s a visual medium.
“This place has been built on news and opinion, and we clearly spell out what you get. We’ve become too much of a hot-take country, so I always say: Watch this stuff. Listen to our interviews. At the end of the day, we’ve created this brand with a lot of smart people, and you have to listen to it for longer than someone who’s just looking for a hot take. You’ve got to give it a chance.”
Wallace has been with Fox since its inception in 1996. In his current role, he oversees news, programming, operations and editorial across Fox News Media — including at Fox News Channel, as well as the Fox Business Network, Fox News Digital, Fox News Audio, and Fox Nation. In our conversation, he pointed to the ratings success as being less about aligning with viewers’ politician leanings and more about matching the “values” of the Fox audience, which is the word he used.
After the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he told me, the values of the country changed. “And with everything going on around the pandemic, with something like the story around Afghanistan — it’s reminded people of how fragile a country can be. We’ve had a backlash against police over the last year-and-a-half, and the ones out there trying to do the right thing, they need our support. And then with our coverage of the two wars post-9/11 — the military has been a big part of our audience.
Bottom line: “I look at (Fox’s performance) as where the country has been over the last 20 years.”

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