Glenn Beck Limps into 2011 with Sinking Ratings

Just one year ago, Fox News' Glenn Beck had a nightly audience of 3 million -- now his ratings are off by a third, and his radio show dropped in New York and Philadelphia.

What a difference one year makes.

Just about 52 weeks ago, Fox News' Glenn Beck was poised at the onset of an early 2010 ratings wave that propelled his daily show to news heights. Through late January and into early February 2010, Glenn Beck drew nearly three million viewers each night, making it at times the most-watched program on cable news.

Glenn Beck had been hot for months, no doubt about that. Back in August, 2009, Beck flirted with the mighty three million-viewer mark, and through most of the remaining months that year his program averaged approximately 2.5 million viewers, or more, each night.

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But in January and February of last year, something popped and Glenn Beck became a monster ratings hit, drawing three million fans a night.

Fast forward twelve months and Glenn Beck is having troubling drawing two million fans each night, let alone three. In fact, through the first three weeks of the year, Beck's show topped the two million mark only three times out of the first 15 episodes that aired.

I've been monitoring Beck's ratings for some time and I cannot recall a streak of weeks like this where he's so consistently fallen below two million viewers. This is definitely new territory for Glenn Beck. I don't know if it's theutter samenessof the show that's driving former viewers away, but the air is clearly seeping out. Between November and the first three weeks of January, Glenn Beck has lost, on average, nearly 500,000 viewers.

Or put another way, the days of Glenn Beck drawing three million viewers are long gone. And they're never coming back. But at this rate, the two-million viewership mark seems to be slipping away, too. Glenn Beck now routinely flirts with ratings in the 1.6-1.8 million range, which is almost exactly half the rating Beck was getting one year ago. In truth, that's how many viewers Glenn Beck used to attract when the host was on vacation and somebody less famous stood in for him. Now that's how many tune in when he's there in the studio.

Also, consider the mountain of media attention Beck basked in during the last twelve months and how he's supposed to be the point person for a grassroots American movement. And then realize his audience is down 50% from where it was 12 months ago. Kind of weird, right?

And yes, the decline comes in the wake of news that Beck's nationally syndicated radio show was recently yanked out of two of the countries largest markets, New York and Philadelphia.

Truth is, Beck's current ratings wilt stretches back to last December and late November. And really, ever since the midterm elections, Glenn Beck has fallen to a ratings plateau that the program hasn't flirted with in well over a year. Beck's rating average for all of last year was 2.25 million viewers, according to Nielsen. But you would have to be back to the week of Nov. 11- Nov. 19 to find when Glenn Beck actually hit that number on a Monday-to-Friday basis. Since mid-November, Beck's numbers have been down consistently.

And that's despite the big media pushes Beck tried to orchestrate in December by taking his live radio and TV show to Wilmington, Ohio, and that's despite the huge news story surrounding the Tucson gun massacre in which Beck was featured when the focus turned to today's far-right anti-government rhetoric. Despite the newsworthy events, Beck's ratings never spiked. Instead, they remain consistently below his 2010 average as he continues to limp into 2011.

Eric Boehlert is is a senior fellow at Media Matters for America. He's the author of Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush (Free Press, 2006) and Bloggers on the Bus: How the Internet Changed Politics and the Press (Free Press, 2009). He worked for five years as a senior writer for, where he wrote extensively about media and politics.