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Fox News enjoys dramatic rise in ’01

Dec 3, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Though CNN won the all-news channel ratings race for the month, the ultimate winner appears to be Fox News Channel, which made heavy gains in year-to-year growth.
For the period of Oct. 29 to Nov. 25, CNN averaged a 0.9 household rating, 782,000 homes and 903,000 viewers over its total day and a 1.2 household rating, 1.06 million homes and 1.33 million viewers in prime time, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Fox News averaged a 0.8 household rating, 623,000 homes and 744 million viewers for total day and a 1.3 household rating, 948,000 homes and 1.22 million viewers in prime time.
Finishing third was MSNBC with a 0.6 household rating, 411,000 homes and 498,000 viewers for total day and a 0.7 household rating, 528,000 homes and 676,000 viewers in prime time.
CNN Headline News, whose dramatic revamp earned negative reviews from critics but positive response from viewers, averaged a 0.3 household rating, 252,000 homes and 305,000 viewers for total day and a 0.3 household rating, 262,000 homes and 341,000 viewers in prime time.
For CNN Headline, that was a 34 percent increase in viewers compared with November 2000 for total day and a 39 percent year-to-year increase in prime time.
Fox News also grew dramatically from year to year-43 percent in total day and 22 percent in prime-time. Fox also added 18 million additional homes in the course of the year to boost its universe to 75 million homes. (CNN is at 85 million homes, and MSNBC is available in nearly 79 million homes.)
Comparisons with November 2000, a month mostly devoted to the marathon presidential election that boosted news ratings for weeks after the close vote show CNN’s year-to-year viewership down 1 percent for total day and down 17 percent in prime time. MSNBC was flat year to year for total day and down 11 percent in prime time.
Among adults 25 to 54, the key news demographic group, Fox was up 27 percent total day and up 2 percent in prime time. Headline News was up 34 percent for total day and up 38 percent in prime time. MSNBC was up 4 percent for total day and down 15 percent in prime time.
CNN was down 5 percent for total day year to year in the demo and down 29 percent in prime time.
But CNN believes the more relevant way to assess its performance is to compare 2001 through the eve of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to the month of November. Its averages for November are up 180 percent for the total day and 102 percent in prime time compared with its average for Jan. 1 through Sept. 10. Using the same formula, Fox is up 158 percent for total day and 100 percent in prime time, while MSNBC is up 124 percent for total day, and MSNBC is up 110 percent in prime time.
MSNBC notes that it has retained more of its big Sept. 11 audiences than the higher-rated news channels. Its average since the tragedy (Sept. 12-Nov. 25) is down 47 percent in households, while Fox is down 51 percent and CNN is down 67 percent for the same period.
Fox, meanwhile, has opened up a new front in its ratings-PR war with CNN: the performance of each channel’s morning shows. Fox trumpets that for the Nielsen month of November, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. (ET), when viewers could presumably choose between Fox’s “Fox & Friends” and CNN’s “Mornings With Paula Zahn,” more viewers (797,000) chose “Fox & Friends” than chose the CNN show (739,000 viewers) anchored by Ms. Zahn, who was dumped by Fox after she entertained an offer from CNN.