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Down and Downer: All Three Major Cable News Nets See Prime-Time Numbers Fall THR

The three top cable news networks -- Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC -- were all down in prime-time ratings this year when compared with 2012, although that year’s ratings were boosted by the presidential election, The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

Fox News again ranked as the most-watched cable news network, with an average of 1.774 million viewers from 8-11 p.m., the story notes. Of those, 297,000 were in the key news demo of viewers 25-54.

That represents drops of 13% and 30%, respectively, from the previous year, although ratings were offset by a boost in the fourth quarter, helped by a new prime-time schedule, the story notes.

MSNBC ranked second in prime time with 645,000 total viewers and 203,000 adults in 25-54, representing drops of 29% by both ratings measures.

“Still a work in progress is CNN. The third-place prime-time network, which admittedly had a strong first half of the year thanks to coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing, the Oklahoma tornadoes and the now-infamous 'poop cruise,' has lagged in recent months," the story reports. "It is on track to hit an all-time low in total prime-time viewership (578,000). That's down 15 percent from last year, with a 16 percent drop in the demo (187,000)."

Commenting on prime-time lineup changes at Fox News, the piece notes: "Megyn Kelly's entry at 9 p.m. might be the most significant anchor move during the tumultuous year. 'The Kelly File's' splashy segue into Sean Hannity's old time slot lifted the hour 13 percent among adults 25-54 compared to year-to-date numbers and a more impressive 23 percent in total viewers."

In the overall cable universe, only Fox News registers as a major player in the ratings. "Across all cable nets, FNC came in sixth in prime time and fourth in total day," the report notes. "MSNBC placed 29th in prime time, but it fell short of CNN in total day (30th compared to 28th). CNN's prime-time rank was 31st."

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