As of Tuesday, TV viewers in the UK can no longer get their Sean Hannity fix. Per the BBC, 21st Century Fox announced it has pulled its news feed from UK broadcaster Sky in a deal it says is no longer in the company’s “commercial interest.” The reason? No one’s watching. A company spokesperson cited Fox News’ dismal ratings directly for the move: "Fox News is focused on the US market and designed for a US audience and, accordingly, it averages only a few thousand viewers across the day in the UK.” One source told the BBC that Sky received about 2,000 Fox News viewers per day. But data from the Broadcaster's Audience Research Board suggests that its UK audience is much higher, averaging up to 60,000 viewers daily in 2017.
There’s speculation over whether 21st Century Fox owner Rupert Murdoch’s bid to buy Sky has influenced the decision. (21st Century Fox already owns a 39% stake in the broadcaster.) As the Guardian puts it, "Fox News has become increasingly troublesome for the Murdochs as they attempt to buy Sky," and those troubles could threaten the takeover bid. Issues related to Fox News have been the center of multiple rulings from Ofcom, the UK media regulator, and then there's the negative press regarding the network's sexual harassment scandal. Though 21st Century Fox denies it, critics like former Labour leader Ed Miliband view the decision as an attempt to distance the company from those controversies. Adds Labour MP Tom Watson, "Fox News has breached Ofcom’s rules over and over again, so 21st Century Fox clearly thought it was easier to pull it from the UK altogether than to clean up its act."