Democrats aren’t the only ones glad Joe Biden is in the Oval Office. Lachlan Murdoch, CEO of the company that owns Fox News Channel, is as well.
Murdoch predicted Thursday that Fox News, the economic engine of his company, Fox Corporation, would lead cable news in the ratings once again after ceding ground in recent weeks to rivals CNN and MSNBC. “The main beneficiary of the Trump administration from a ratings points of view was MSNBC,” which served as a kind of “loyal opposition.,” Murdoch said while speaking to investors at a conference organized by Morgan Stanley. “That’s what our job is now with the Biden administration, and you’ll see our ratings really improve from here.”
Murdoch makes his comments as Fox News Channel has come under investor scrutiny due to viewership levels rising not only at traditional cable-news rivals, but also at far-right news outlets like Newsmax. The refusal of the Trump administration to accept the results of the election and a January 6 insurrection at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., he said, spurred higher viewership at other networks, as did Fox News viewers’ dislike of the way Fox News channel chronicled Trump’s defeat. Viewers, he noted, were “disappointed with the election results.”
In recent weeks, Fox News Channel has overhauled its daytime lineup, added new opinion hours where news once held sway and parted ways with editorial personnel like Chris Stirewalt, one of its political journalists. Even its highly-watched primetime hosts, which include mainstays like Sean Hannity, saw viewership levels fall.
Now, he says, CNN ratings are “coming back down to earth” after the “D.C. riots,” and Fox News will serve as MSNBC did during the Trump administration, when it “called out the president when he needed to be called out.”
Murdoch also provided Fox Corp.’s strongest hint yet that it is poised to drop “Thursday Night Football” from its schedule when its current rights contract ends after the 2022 season.
All the big networks that currently have NFL rights are in the midst of negotiations with the NFL for pacts that could see their fees double for agreements that could last for a decade or more. “We’re getting towards the end of this negotiation,” Murdoch said, noting that Fox and the league were “still apart on a number of issues. When it comes to a new agreement, he said, “the most likely scenario” is that Fox keeps its Sunday-afternoon NFL broadcast, and lets Thursday go.
More to come…
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