Newsmax’s Ratings Have Crashed From Its Post-Tucker Carlson Sugar High

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast

Last spring, pro-Trump cable channel Newsmax was riding a massive ratings surge after Fox News abruptly fired far-right primetime star Tucker Carlson, prompting disgruntled MAGA viewers to dump the conservative cable giant in protest.

A year after transparently exploiting right-wing discontent over Fox’s removal of Carlson to gain a short-term boost in the cable news marketplace—which even saw the network occasionally surpass CNN in primetime—Newsmax is now experiencing a complete reversal of fortune.

Despite a news cycle filled with high-profile events like Donald Trump’s hush money trial and the tumultuous pro-Palestine protests on college campuses, Newsmax’s primetime viewership has plummeted to its lowest levels of 2024. The decline is staggering, with a drop of over 60 percent in certain categories compared to the same period last year, as reported by Nielsen.

Fox News is, meanwhile, seeing the complete opposite with its ratings. Weeknight primetime total viewership is up nearly 40 percent year-over-year, while the channel’s nightly ratings in the key advertising demographic of adults aged 25-54 have spiked 63 percent from 2023.

During the period of April 24 and May 7 of 2023, which coincides with the first two weeks after Carlson was let go by Fox, Newsmax averaged 393,000 total viewers and 42,000 in the 25-54 demo during weeknight primetime. In the past two weeks, however, the Monday-Friday primetime ratings have dropped to 282,000 viewers overall and 20,000 in the demographic, a precipitous drop of 28 percent and 52 percent respectively.

Taking the channel’s entire programming lineup into consideration, the viewership plunge is even more dire for Newsmax. According to Nielsen, the network only averaged 156,000 daily viewers (including the weekends) and a minuscule 9,000 in the key demo. Compared to last spring, Newsmax experienced a drop of 19 percent in total viewership and 61 percent in the 25-54 category.

While Fox is the only cable news channel to see its Monday-Sunday primetime demo ratings go up year-over-year, the network’s other non-Newsmax rivals have also seen a bump in their viewership across other time slots, perhaps rubbing more salt in the wound for Newsmax.

CNN’s total weekday viewership is up 30 percent compared to last year, and MSNBC's is up twenty percent. Both networks have also seen moderate gains in daily demographic ratings. Newsmax, on the other hand, is down 56 percent in the key demographic and 20 percent in overall weekday viewership.

A Newsmax spokesperson responded to this article by first noting that the “25-54 demo is not the cable news audience” while citing a Los Angeles Times piece that reported the median age of CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC viewers as between 67 and 71.

Without disputing the viewership numbers cited in this story, the spokesperson added: “Despite Daily Beast’s slicing and dicing, Nielsen reports Newsmax’s Total Audience M-S is up 72% January through April, and up 17% for April through May, year over year.”

The continued decline of Newsmax’s viewership, in the end, is far from unexpected. (Much like the brief surge it experienced by going all-in on embracing Trump’s 2020 election lies, a decision that has since opened the network up to extinction-level defamation lawsuits.)

At the end of last year, The Daily Beast noted that the channel’s ratings had already come crashing back down following its post-Tucker sugar high, which even included the network not-so-subtly suggesting he could potentially join Newsmax in the near future. (Similarly, the channel experienced a brief surge by going all-in on embracing Trump’s 2020 election lies, a decision that has since opened the network up to extinction-level defamation lawsuits.)

While it soon became obvious that Carlson—who has seen his own political influence rapidly dissipate as he’s transitioned to a role as a desperately weird podcaster—wasn’t going to be part of Newsmax’s lineup, the network tried a number of other gambits to appeal to conservative cable viewers.

Whether it was loading up its lineup with even more disgraced ex-Fox News stars, letting sitting GOP congressmen actually host full hours of news programming, or straight-up copying the most-watched show in cable news, Newsmax threw everything at the wall to retain the MAGA demographic.

And, it appears, that none of it worked for them in the long term.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.