Today marks the six month anniverary of Fox News Channel's latest hit, "Outnumbered," a news and analysis program featuring the first ever female-dominant panel and it's already the kind of runaway hit that, following the success of "The Five," has the broadcast industry wondering why Fox remains incapable of delivering a dud, if only now and then.
Nielsen Media Research recently reported that 'Outnumbered' is already delivering over one million viewers nationally in the noon hour, beating out network rivals MSNBC and CNN's ratings combined for the same time slot. In fact, since launching back on April 28, "Outnumbered" is up 27 percent in total viewers and 50 percent in the key demographics. 'Outnumbered's' first month on-air, the program surpassed all of CNN and MSNBC's primetime programming with P2+ for the month of August, including "Anderson Cooper 360," "The Rachel Maddow Show" and "Hardball with Chris Matthews."
For the uninitiated, "Outnumbered" airs weekdays at noon and is the brain-child of Roger Ailes, Fox News Founder, CEO and Chairman. It's comprised of three parts news coverage and one part social analysis and is headed by two Fox News veterans: breaking news journalist Harris Faulkner and business-centric journalist Sandra Smith. Add in firebrand Andrea Tantaros, a rotation of political pundits, like "The Five's" Kimberly Guilfoyle, along with a male guest host who – lucky guy – gets thrown into that sea of brains and beauty, and it's no wonder the show has so far destroyed all would-be competition.
The show is all about keeping people informed in an interesting and unique way, while still managing to bring the fun, and that's truly what sets "Outnumbered" apart from other news shows, asserts its cast and crew. Six-time Emmy award winning journalist and co-host, Faulkner certainly agrees but reinforces the idea that the show is first and foremost pointing "due news, like due north."
"I think people like the mix of the hard news and the tough topics, and sometimes it can feel a little bit like a girl's trip to Vegas because there are four women on the couch; we like each other, and you have that one lucky guy on the couch to mix it up," said Faulkner, who attributed a good deal of "Outnumbered's" success to their co-host's ability to mix in fun topics along with hard news.
"When Mr. Ailes created the show, his idea was to break up the typical news cycle we had with the single- or dual-anchor during ho go for one to two hours at a time. He wanted... something different right in the middle of it," said Faulkner. "So there is 'Outnumbered' in the noon slot. Our goal is first and foremost to inform, but to do it in a way that's easy to understand."
In contrast to CNN and MSNBC midday shows featuring traditional single-anchor reporting, 'Outnumbered' personalizes and diversifies the whole experience by featuring its famed rotating panel of reporters, political pundits, and editorial commentators, all offering up unique perspectives and analysis on the day's events. Last week, the show once again welcomed Gene Simmons from the rock group KISS, who has never been afraid to speak his mind.
Andrea Tantaros, who has carved a name for herself as a bold conservative pundit, believes the show is doing so well because, "Sandra is very well versed in business and Harris is one of the best breaking news journalists in the country. And then the other side of the couch is more opinion. I'm more opinion and editorial with a background in politics, so you are getting a diverse group of women on a diverse group of topics."
For her part, Faulker says her role is to interject. I'm always asking, 'But what about this?,' or 'Did you see this?' My co-hosts tease me that I'm kind of the 'What about this girl.' "
"You don't want to stop the conversation if it's a good one, but if there is a place to insert a point of view or a fact that isn't being talked about, that's really where my journalism steps in," she adds. "My priority as a journalist has always been to shine a light in the darkest places. To find corruption, abuse, and the misuse of power. To unearth the demons out there and expose them. That's really what journalism is about – keeping very powerful people in check with the facts, and letting the public know."
Tantaros, who has long worked in politics on Capitiol Hill and in various political campaigns, aims to editorialize – not only on the subject of politics but also on more culturally-centered topics.
"There's a lot happening outside of D.C. – in people's households – and we try to cover those stories as well. I think 'Outnumbered' gives us the opportunity to dig into what's happening with kids, teens, single women, married women, and really cover it all," she says. "I just hope to bring my small voice in this world to weigh in on things I think are important to me, and I think may be important to people at home."
For Smith, it's all about playing the role of the moderator "to bring out the best in everyone for a very informed discussion. I don't come on there to share my opinions or political beliefs," he says. "I truly play the role of a journalist on the program; and, as a journalist, I inform my audience and present facts. If you know me from the show, you know that I'm big on numbers and quantifying things – especially given my business background. At the end of the day, we all have a responsibility to represent many points of view and not just one.
The third quarter of 2014 saw Fox News beat rival networks MSNBC and CNN as well as all other cable channels – including long time chart-toppers ESPN and USA. The outlet saw a 12 percent ratings increase, which nearly doubles CNN and MSNBC ratings combined. In fact, Fox leads by more than double the ratings in just about every time slot.
"I think it's important to give viewers an alternative to just one side of the news, and thats what Fox does. They'll tell you what the Republican says, and they'll tell you what the Democrat says, and then they'll tell you the facts – the straight news of it," says Tantaros. "And you're going to get the analysis from both sides of the aisle and then you can make a decision. I think thats whats been lacking in broadcast news – people were searching for news and a fair shake of the analysis, and I think thats what Fox does really, really well."