According to Comedy Central, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart averaged 2.3 million viewers per episode in 2011. Unlike Fox News, “The Daily Show” was up in total viewers (+7%) and all key demos: adults 18-49 (+6%); men 18-34 (+2%); men 18-24 (+4%).” The Daily Show was also the top cable late night talk show in terms of total viewers, and was generally dominant. While Fox News was losing 14% in the demo in 2011, Jon Stewart was gaining 6%.
Jon Stewart has become Fox News’ #1 media nemesis. To put Stewart’s ratings into a head to head context, The O’Reilly Factor tends to hover around the 3 million viewers range. Hannity is at around 2+ million, and On The Record with Greta Van Susteren varies between 1.1 million and 1.5 million as an average. This means that The Daily Show is more popular than both Hannity and On The Record, and trails O’Reilly by about 700,000 viewers.
The reason why Fox News feels so threatened by Jon Stewart is because his program is more popular than anything not named Bill O’Reilly on the network. Not only is Stewart popular, but he is popular with the coveted young demographics that Fox News struggles with. The average Fox News viewer is 65 years old. For years, the Fox News model of success has been powered by viewers literally aging in to watching Fox.
However, Jon Stewart has thrown a wrench in the Fox News cycle of life by educating his millions of younger viewers about Fox News. Stewart spends segments debunking the propaganda, exposing facts, and uncovering the edited video that is the bread and butter of America’s top cable news network.
Every night Stewart is teaching Americans how to not watch Fox News. The Daily Show host has become the media critic with the biggest platform and loudest voice in our country, and most often that voice is targeting Fox News for their brand of “journalism.”