Huge Year for Cable News Networks, Fox is Most Watched, MSNBC is Fastest Growing

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December 19th, 2008

While we publish daily cable news ratings, Broadcasting & Cable has an article today with some nice wrap up numbers for the cable news industry for the year:

In primetime, Fox News was up 41% in total viewers, averaging just over 2 million viewers. In news’ target demographic of 25- to 54-year-olds, the network averaged 502,000 viewers, a gain of 43%.

Fox News will finish the year as the most-watched cable news network—for the seventh consecutive year. The network is the No. 3 ranked basic-cable network in primetime, behind USA and ESPN. CNN is ranked 10th and MSNBC is ranked 22nd.

CNN posted gains of 72% in primetime for an average of 1.31 million viewers. For the demo, CNN averaged 463,000 viewers for a 91% increase.

MSNBC grew its primetime audience by 84% for an average of 926,000 viewers. In the demo, MSNBC averaged 368,000 viewers, a gain of 83%.


And while Fox News still boasts the majority of the top-ten cable news programs (7) with Bill O’Reilly leading the charge, CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 this year snuck past On the Record with Greta van Susteren in the demo (480,000 to 460,000). In total viewers, On the Record still outrates AC360 (1.79 million to 1.33 million).

As the third-place cable news network, MSNBC had the steepest hill to climb. The network’s fresh new star, Rachel Maddow, is in a dead heat at 9 p.m. with CNN’s Larry King in total viewers for the fourth quarter, each recorded 1.729 million. Among the coveted 25-54 demographic, The Rachel Maddow Show is beating Larry King Live 628,000 to 575,000.

But King, who at 75 is the elder statesman of the genre, is having his best year in years, up 74% in total viewers and more than 100% in the demo since Maddow launched in early September. Fox News'Hannity & Colmes, however, is still the No. 1 show at 9 p.m.

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