I don’t follow the news wars or the cable news wars much.  I get my news mostly from reading and mostly from the Internet.  I don’t listen to Bill O’Reilly or Keith Olbermann, or any of the talking heads and wonks but I don’t watch Katie Couric, Petter Jennings or Brian Williams either.  But, when it comes to trash talk and sound bites, it isn’t lost on me that Fox doesn’t miss many opportunities to skewer their beaten-down competition.

The Obama presidency has been a  boon for FOX News, and the first quarter of 2009 was FOX News’  third best quarter of all time trailing only Q4 2008 (election) and Q3 2005 (Hurricane Katrina).  In light of that, the press release from FOX News (below) actually seemed rather muted with the exception of the sub-headline that read CNN Ratings Collapse – Network Plummets 21% in Prime Time 25-54 Demographic During Extraordinary Quarter for Political and Economic News.

So FOX News doubles its pleasure with great ratings quarter and misfortune for  its primary competition. Ah, schadenfreude!

Though we post weekly cable rankers (including Disney) here are the first quarter 2009 and March monthly rankers (PDF format, and minus Disney).

And here’s the press release:

FOX News Channel Dwarfs Cable News Competition in Remarkable First Quarter Ratings Surge

The O’Reilly Factor Marks 100 Consecutive Months at #1

CNN Ratings Collapse – Network Plummets 21% in Prime Time 25-54 Demographic During Extraordinary Quarter for Political and Economic News

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–FOX News Channel (FNC) expanded its ratings dominance among its cable news competition in all categories during the first quarter (Q1) of 2009, beating CNN and MSNBC combined in viewership according to Nielsen Media Research. Marked by President Obama’s first months in office and an escalating economic crisis, Q1 2009 was FNC’s third highest rated quarter in prime time in the network’s history – behind Q4 2008 (Presidential election) and Q3 2005 (Hurricane Katrina). Among all basic cable channels, FNC ranked second for the quarter in prime time viewership, with CNN and MSNBC lagging behind at 17th and 24th, respectively.

In prime time, FNC bested CNN and MSNBC combined with an average of 2,250,000 viewers (up 24%) during Q1 2009, compared with CNN’s 1,126,000 (down 10%) and MSNBC’s 950,000 (up 22%). In total day, FNC also rated higher than the competition with 1,203,000 total viewers (up 26%) compared to CNN’s 740,000 (up 17%) and MSNBC’s 473,000 (up 20%). FNC ranked fifth among all basic cable channels for the quarter in total day viewership while CNN and MSNBC followed at 14th and 28th, respectively.

In the key 25-54 demographic, FNC expanded upon an already commanding lead in prime time averaging 511,000 viewers (up 19%) compared with CNN’s 343,000 (down 22%) and MSNBC’s 343,000 (up 7%). In total day, FNC averaged 317,000 (up 23%) compared to CNN’s 236,000 (up 7%) and MSNBC’s 180,000 (up 11%).

FNC also secured 9 out of the top 10 programs in cable news for the quarter based on total viewership. The O’Reilly Factor marked #1 for 100 consecutive months in March and led all programs with 3,387,000 viewers, up 27% over last year. Rounding out the top five programs were: Hannity (up 36%); Glenn Beck (up 90%); Special Report with Bret Baier (up 39%); The FOX Report with Shepard Smith (up 29%); On the Record with Greta Van Susteren (up 26%).

In January, FNC launched three news programs which have posted significant ratings gains over Q1 2008. Glenn Beck (5:00 – 6:00pm ET) averaged 2,233,000 (up 90%) in total viewers and 548,000 (up 115%) in the 25-54 demographic. Beck was also the fastest growing program in all of cable news in March – up an astounding 118% (2,271,000) in total viewers and 171% (580,000) in the 25-54 demographic when compared with the same time period in March 2008. Special Report with Bret Baier (6:00 – 7:00pm ET) averaged 2,037,000 (up 39%) in total viewers and 446,000 (up 41%) in the 25-54 demographic. Hannity (9:00 – 10:00pm ET) averaged 2,671,000 (up 36%) in total viewers and 646,000 (up 35%) in the 25-54 demographic. All three new programs beat CNN and MSNBC combined in total viewership during their respective time periods.

FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour general news service covering breaking news as well as political, entertainment and business news. For more than six years, FNC has been the most watched cable news channel in the nation. Owned by News Corp., FNC is available in more than 90 million homes.

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Posted by:TV By The Numbers