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Bill O’Reilly Says “TV is Done,’ Cable News and NFL Next

Tuesday, Bill O’Reilly discussed the NFL’s ratings decline and the Emmy Awards’ collapsing viewership.

“TV is done,” O’Reilly said on The First OTT service. “It is not coming back.”

O’Reilly crushed the Emmys, an annual event no longer of note. 10 years ago, with viewers urgent to watch, the award show drew 14 million viewers. Sunday, it drew just 6 million — hitting an all-time low for the second-straight year.

O’Reilly asks, “Does anyone care who won the Emmys? Do you know?” Before viewers could decide, he answered himself: “No, no, nobody cares.”

On the Emmys and entertainment industry, O’Reilly is correct. They are inching toward irrelevance. As for the NFL, he’s early.

The NFL is off to an ugly start with large year-over-year declines. But that’s not because the games are on TV. Just last year, professional football was up across all networks: Fox, CBS, NBC, and ESPN. Professional football doesn’t have a TV problem, it has a political problem.

As was the case in 2016, ratings are dropping as players kneel. When attention is off the game, and divisive, viewers tune out in millions. The concern: this time, alienated fans won’t return.

In addition, sports leagues have likely peaked.

Cable news is also taking away from sports. Monday night, A-level personalities trounced their 2019 ratings. Tucker Carlson drew 4.7 million viewers, which is an eye-popping 62% increase from the same day last year. Sean Hannity was up 27% with just another day at the office 4.3 million. Even Chris Fake Weights Cuomo’s 1.3 million increased 44%.

Cable news’ rise brings us to O’Reilly’s final point.

Per O’Reilly, regardless of who wins the election, “TV news industry will be done after the election.”

Wrong.

Cable news has never been more consumed than now. Sure, it may slow down once the election is over. But there is a long way to fall.

In August, five shows averaged over 3 million viewers a day. Hannity drew an unheard of 4.7 million. What’s more, election coverage only led top shows some days. Other episodes began with nationwide protests, racial topics, and updates on COVID-19. Unlike years past, the rise of political interest isn’t merely election-related.

In June, Fox News concluded its highest-rated quarter in network history in both total day and primetime. Q3 could be even higher.

CNN and MSNBC, too, were up substantially. Year-over-year, CNN saw 115% and 146% increases in total day and primetime, respectively.

Cable news is years away from, to use O’Reilly’s words, “done” territory. At some point, yes, digital media will slice away. There are fast-growing news podcasts: Ben Shapiro, Dan Bongino, Pod Save America, The Daily. In sports media, the transition is underway as talks show numbers are rapidly declining. However, news podcasts are not thriving in lieu of TV — yet.

Political news mediums last longer. Some media industries see talk-radio as archaic. Not political talk. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Glenn Beck continue to speak to millions of listeners daily across America.

The Emmys are dead. Sitcoms are on life-support. The NFL should be alarmed. Cable news, for now, is safe.

By the way, that rant, vintage Bill O’Reilly.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers any news story that deserves attention but focuses on media. His interests include reading Stephen King novels, avoiding traffic on the road, and pretending to solve true-crime mysteries. He still believes Cersei should've won and encourages everyone to always question the news.

9 Comments

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  1. All of this decline tends to be exaggerated by the media as they base their observations on their own biases as to how they consume. Saying things are on ‘life support’ when there are still 80 million pay tv subscribers is like I said, exaggerated. Is TV the cash machine it once was? No, but still doing fine

  2. I agree…news networks are not going anywhere. After the election, right-leaning Fox News will still thrive and MSNBC, with the weight of their network behind it will serve left leaning viewers. CNN in its current format will collapse. It’s viewer base is people stuck in airports and folks dumb enough to believe they’re getting impartial, factual news (which includes the low-info crowd who turn in for “breaking news”). CNN needs a thorough house-cleaning.

    Big Bang Theory may have been the swan song of network sitcoms, but as mobile & TV become intertwined, there may be a revival. Even sitcoms are better viewed on a big screen, plus it allows you to multi-task on social media.

    The NFL will trudge along, but its peak has been reached, even counting mobile & out of home viewers. The politics will scrape off more over 35 viewers than they’re grooming, to the point where MNF games will be struggling to pull in 8 million viewers. Eventually the NFL may make a play for the China market, once its slow descent in the US puts it in the same boat as the NBA.

  3. Interesting piece i used to watch O’Reilly when he was on Fox for a long time but he became tedious to me kinda arrogant know it all i tried to continue to watch but i just couldn’t and finally quit watching. Maybe in small doses i could get back into watching him maybe. I like Sean and Tucker a lot watch them on a regular basis Ingram too always seems to be fact based not feel good emotional stuff.

  4. I don’t think O’Reilly is way off on cable news. Tucker Carlson will either start his own podcast/streaming service by this time next year, or will partner with Dan Bongino. Hannity will be the only major player who stays put. CNN and MSNBC daily viewership will be less than 1.5 million combined this time next year. Fool me once…Americans aren’t dumb.

  5. I could see Fox news exploding to levels never seen before after the elections. Because after Trump wins, things are going to get real interesting for the next 4 years. The impeachment trials and other sham hearings the Dems will start will make the OJ Simpson trial look like an episode of Peoples Court. And does anyone remember the last time they saw a good movie come out? Or watched a new release? That industry is in a really bad place.

  6. Bill O’Reilly was the KING of cable news and actually,all of cable programming. His ratings dwarfed all cable based programming. At times,Bill was full of himself. He has a pulse of the media happenings. Once the election is done by say January 5th, cable news programs Ratings will drop like a rock. Fewer will watch. History repeats itself. They will go back to their regular life

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