Reported by Liku Zelleke
Can a television channel’s viewership demographic breakdown say anything about its content and how it is perceived by a nation’s racial makeup? Well, decide for yourself:
Last year, Nielsen’s annual report on the nation’s cable news viewership showed that there was a huge gap between the demographics of the audiences for the top three networks: MSNBC, CNN and Fox News.
It stated that during the primetime hours of 8-11 p.m., MSNBC had a 24 percent Black viewership, CNN had 16 percent, and Fox News had only a paltry 1 percent of Black viewers. Meanwhile, on the other side of the spectrum, MSNBC’s primetime audience was 67 percent White, CNN’s was 73 percent White, and Fox News’ viewers were 92 percent White.
In a 2010 census, 72 percent of Americans identified themselves as being “White alone,” while 13 percent said they were “Black or African-American,” implying that both CNN and MSNBC were both overrepresented and Fox News was greatly underrepresented when it came to Black audiences.
When it comes to breaking it down into approximate numbers, in November of 2014 for example, Fox News had an average of 2.082 million viewers of its primetime shows, while CNN had 653,000 and MSNBC had 605,000 viewers. Using the percentages, Fox News had 20,820 Black viewers, CNN had 104,480, and MSNBC had 145,200 — showing that even though Fox News had more than twice the number of overall viewers, it still had far less Blacks watching the network.
The numbers doesn’t change much with other minority groups, either. Fox News also has a lower percentage across the board than that of either CNN or MSNBC. While CNN has a slightly higher number of Asian-American viewers than MSNBC, they both have about the same number of Hispanic watchers — 7 percent.
This is in contrast to 16 percent of Americans identifying themselves as “Hispanic,” which shows that all three networks are significantly underrepresented, despite CNN and Fox News having Spanish-only networks (CNN en Español and Fox News Latino).
The ironic thing about the lack of black viewership of Fox News is that News Corp, the company that owns Fox News, still earns hundreds of millions of dollars each year from African American consumers. Rupert Murdoch, Executive Chairman of News Corp, also controls the rights to the television show, “Empire,” which has set records for the number of black viewers. So, while blacks may avoid Fox News for its allegedly racist content, black consumers have become a cash cow for Murdoch’s entertainment and media empire.