The numbers are out for cable news. They indicate collapsing ratings.
According to Nielsen data through Dec. 8, Fox News Channel averaged 1.774 million viewers in primetime (down 13% from 2012) and 297,000 adults 25-54 (down 30%). It was followed by MSNBC with 645,000 viewers and 203,000 adults 25-54 (down 29% in both); CNN with 578,000 (down 15%) and 187,000 adults 25-54 (down 16%); and HLN with 403,000 total viewer (up 21%) and 142,000 in the demo (up 27%).
I got this news from the Drudge Report, which has 3 million hits a day. It is run by three guys, and is probably worth $150 million.
Fox News is the biggie, with under 2 million viewers a day. There are about 110 million households in the United States. This means about 200 million adults. So, Fox News gets under 1%, at best.
The idea that cable news affects the outcome of anything except the sale of advertised products is silly. The decision-makers are not watching cable news. They may have junior staff members watch, just for curiosity’s sake. But probably not.
What shapes public opinion? Facebook. Drudge. Network news. Jon Stewart. Rush Limbaugh. Not cable.