Since the inauguration, Fox News commands nearly half of the gross ratings points in the cable news marketplace, and is now on course to mark its tenth straight week as ad-supported cable’s No. 2 network.
Naturally, Fox News says that second place isn’t good enough. Even after taking the silver among ad-supported cable in the first quarter of 2009, averaging 2.26 million total viewers to USA Network’s record delivery of 3.26 million, the channel won’t rest until it has reached the summit. In short, FNC wants to win the prime-time ratings crown outright, and as the upfront season approaches, its ad sales team is trumpeting that message to media buyers.
Running a perfect 15-for-15 in prime in 2009, USA isn’t likely to be overtaken until the fourth quarter, when ESPN storms back with Monday Night Football. During the week ended April 19, USA served up 3.04 million viewers, beating FNC by a margin of 563,000. (The closest Fox News has come to passing USA was in the week ended March 15, when it drew within 373,000 viewers.)
More importantly, however, USA is all but untouchable in key demos. In Q1 2009, the network swept all three major demos, including adults 25-54 (1.54 million) and 18-49 (1.46 million). By comparison, FNC averaged 515,000 members of the core news demo, while delivering 375,000 viewers 18-49.
If USA regularly triples FNC’s delivery of adults 25-54, the news net enjoys a much more affluent audience. Like rivals CNN and MSNBC, Fox News boasts a core audience with a median household income of $73,000, while USA’s share of the 25-54 set brings in $53,000.