Since Maddow’s ratings climb in March, she has beaten Hannity among adults 25-54 every month and has also done the same with direct competitor ‘The Five’ since its post-O’Reilly move to 9 p.m.
The 9 p.m. hour in cable news will be the latest closely watched ratings race between Fox News and MSNBC. Starting Monday, Fox News host Sean Hannity will go back to his old time slot, and will be matched up against one of his enemies, MSNBC star anchor Rachel Maddow.
The shift was made possible by the Fox News canceling the 5 p.m. program The Specialists, which made it necessary for present 9 p.m. occupant “The Five” to go back to its namesake slot. On his show Monday night, Hannity said he’s happy to be back at 9 p.m., and made it known that he has MSNBC and Maddow’s show on his mind.
“By the way, all my career I’ve started behind the eight-ball,” he rambled. “In the month of August, for example, we were No. 2 in cable, because for some bizarre reason Conspiracy Theory TV is working right now. But, well, with your help, and if you help us spread the word, give us a little time, we’re planning on being No. 1 with your help.”
“Conspiracy Theory TV” is an obvious reference to Maddow’s show. On a late May episode of Hannity, the Fox News host referred to her as “the champion of pushing unhinged, bizarre conspiracies,” and he regularly calls her a conspiracy theorist for her coverage of the alleged collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government, which is a popular storyline on MSNBC.
“By slotting Hannity at 9 p.m. Fox News is attacking MSNBC’s strongest time period with the intention of peeling off some of their least loyal viewers,” said Joe Peyronnin, who is a former president of Fox News and current Hofstra University journalism professor. “Hannity will likely verbally snipe and criticize Maddow, a la Trump, in an effort to weaken her ratings.”
Tyndall said the true competition between Hannity and Maddow is for ratings, which are an important point of pride and promotion for all cable television companies and their media relations departments. But the result of this ratings contest “will not affect the type of programing that is available (both are well-known entities) and will only marginally benefit either channel’s bottom line,” he said.