Fox Corporation’s value as a public company sank more than $500 million after the media company announced on Monday that it was Separate with star host Tucker Carlson, raising questions about the future of Fox News and the future of the conservative network’s primetime programming.
Carlson, whose last show was Friday, April 21, is leaving Fox News even though he remains one of the network’s highest-rated hosts, drawing 334,000 viewers in the coveted 25-54 demographic in the slot. 8 p.m. for the week ended April 20, according to AdWeek. It was more than double the viewership of its competitors on CNN and MSNBC in the same hour, and was also a larger audience than other Fox News hosts such as Sean Hannity or Laura Ingraham.
Fox shares fell 17 cents, or 0.6%, on Tuesday to $29.74. Since the close of trading on Friday, the stock has fallen 3.5%.
Carlson’s abrupt departure comes less than a week after Fox hit $787.5 million regulation with Dominion Voting Systems, which had sued the company in a $1.6 billion defamation case over the network’s coverage of the 2020 presidential election.
In the short term, the financial impact on Fox could be minimal because advertisers typically book their slots in advance, but “if the ratings are really cratering” there could be a problem, said Joseph Bonner, senior analyst at the securities at Argus Research, at CBS MoneyWatch. .
He added: “Long-term intermediate, maybe [there is] some financial impact depending on who takes Carlson’s place and his success, or lack thereof.”
Fox News said it will air “Fox News Tonight” at 8 p.m. Monday as an interim show until a new host is named.
The programming shift may be due to Fox News needing to attract more mainstream advertisers, Huber Research analyst Doug Arthur noted in a research note. Advertising on Fox’s cable networks had been “poor/disappointing” despite its dominance in the ratings, he added.
“[A] moving away from bigoted conspiracy content, less ‘My Pillow’ stuff, might start attracting big advertisers,” he wrote, referring to the company owned by Mike Lindell, the businessman who promoted election conspiracies in the wake of President Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election.
Range of responses
Carlson became a focal point in the Dominion case afterr documents revealed disparaging text messages from him about former President Donald Trump, including one that read, “I hate him passionately.”
The host’s comments about Fox management, which also emerged in the Dominion affair, played a role in his departure from the network, the Washington Post reportedquoting someone familiar with Fox’s thinking.
During his last show on Friday, Carlson gave no indication that this would be his final appearance. Reactions to his departure ranged from glee, “The View” audiences reportedly burst into applauseto disappointment, with Eric Trump tweeting, “What’s happening to Fox?”
Some social media users denounced Carlson’s exit, with others also urging viewers to contact their cable providers to complain. “Fox News fired Tucker Carlson because they’re going to wake up!!!” a commenter wrote.
The departure means Fox News is losing a large audience, years after the network severed ties with Bill O’Reilly, one of its superstars.
Can Fox produce a new star?
O’Reilly left the network in 2017 after sexual harassment complaints were filed against him, with Carlson taking his place at 8 p.m. But Carlson’s ratings are far below O’Reilly, which averaged 728,000 viewers aged 25-54 in the first quarter of 2017. according at the Hollywood Reporter. By comparison, Carlson’s audience in this demographic during the first three months this year averaged 443,000.
“While commentators may talk about the sky falling at the loss of a major star, Fox has been quite successful in producing new stars over time,” Bonner noted. “We have to think about the person and the platform.”
At the same time, Carlson faces allegations of a former employee on the network’s “toxic” work environment. Abby Grossberg, who worked as a booking manager on Carlson’s show, claimed in court papers last month that she endured an environment that “subjugates women based on despicable gender stereotypes, categorizes minorities nuns and demeans their traditions, and shows little or no respect for those with mental illness.”
Grossberg also alleged that Fox’s legal team “coerced” her into providing misleading testimony in the Dominion defamation case.
In a statement on Monday, Grossberg called Carlson’s departure “a step toward accountability for the election lies and baseless conspiracy theories spread by Fox News, which I witnessed firsthand on the network, as well as for the abuse and harassment I suffered as head of booking and senior producer for Tucker Carlson Tonight.”