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Fox News chases CNN out of No. 1 spot

Feb 4, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Fox News Channel zipped past CNN in January to reign for the first time as the most-watched cable news channel for total day and prime time, despite being available in 9 million fewer homes than CNN.
According to data from Nielsen Media Research, the 51/2-year-old Fox News’ 24-hour average of 656,000 viewers was up 109 percent over January 2001, giving it a 10 percent margin over CNN, which averaged 596,000 viewers in January, up 51 percent from a year ago. MSNBC averaged 296,000 viewers, up 23 percent from a year ago.
In prime time, Fox averaged 1.091 million viewers in January, up 79 percent from a year ago, and had an 18 percent edge on CNN, which averaged 921,000 viewers in January, up 21 percent. MSNBC’s prime-time average of 358,000 viewers was up 3 percent.
In the adults 25 to 54 demo that largely drives ad revenues for news channels, Fox was tops in total day (an average 277,000 viewers, up 159 percent year-to-year) and prime time (415,000, up 116 percent). CNN averaged 202,000 viewers for total day in the demo (up 64 percent) and 290,000 viewers in prime time (up 36 percent). MSNBC averaged 150,000 adults 25 to 54 for total day (up 25 percent) and 162,000 in prime time (down 7 percent).
Meanwhile, CNN’s Headline News showed significant year-to-year growth in viewers over total day (up 48 percent to an average 235,000 viewers) and in prime time (up 26 percent to an average 226,000 viewers) and in the 25 to 54 demo (up 79 percent for total day to 118,000 and up 61 percent in prime time to 121,000).
Headline News, in fact, pared down its total-day weekday median age by 10 percent, to 49.8, making it the youngest-skewing of all the cable news networks. MSNBC, whose median age remained at 52.7, was the only network not to get younger year to year. Fox’s median age dropped 8 percent to 56.2 years. CNN’s median age dropped 9 percent to 59.4.
In another programming block that each party deems significant, Fox noted that its “Fox & Friends” is the most-watched morning news show on cable with an average 651,000 viewers from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. (ET) weekdays.
CNN averaged 564,000 viewers in the 7 a.m.-to-10 a.m. block occupied by Paula Zahn’s show, which was retitled, reformatted and relaunched as “American Morning” on Jan. 7. CNN notes that its year-to-year improvements in the block include increases of 170 percent in viewers, 211 percent in adults 18 to 34, 168 percent in adults 18 to 49 and 176 percent in adults 25 to 54.
Meanwhile, “Fox & Friends”’ improvements included year-to-year increases of 157 percent in total viewers, 126 percent in adults 18 to 34, 125 percent in adults 18 to 49 and 162 percent in adults 25 to 54.
Fox claimed four of the five most-watched cable news shows. “The O’Reilly Factor” ranked first with 1.956 million viewers. Ranked second was CNN’s “Larry King Live” (1.273 million), who may have to worry about being out-drawn by yet another Fox show and personality, “The Fox Report With Shepard Smith” (1.265 million). Ranked fourth was Fox’s “Special Report by Brit Hume” (1.149 million), followed by Fox’s “Hannity and Colmes” (1.124 million).