Political Coverage Boosts Cable News Nets

Nov 2, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Politics was good to the three major cable news networks in October, giving each dramatic year-to-year increases in viewership.

Fox News Channel posted its third-most-watched prime-time month ever, behind the war months of April and March 2003. For the first time, Fox News programming occupied the six top cable news slots, pushing CNN’s “Larry King Live” to the seventh spot. Fox’s top program was “The O’Reilly Factor,” which seemed to get a viewing boost out of the sexual harassment scandal that swirled around host Bill O’Reilly and was settled confidentially after two weeks.

CNN’s prime-time performance was its best since April 2003. MSNBC ‘s prime-time viewership grew 192 percent year to year, led by “Hardball With Chris Matthews,” which beat CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” for the month.

Fox’s prime time averaged 2.41 million viewers, up 116 percent compared with October 2003, while “The O’Reilly Factor” averaged 3.17 million viewers for the month. For total day, Fox averaged 1.09 million viewers, up 64 percent year to year.

CNN averaged 1.04 million viewers in prime time, up 25 percent year to year. For total day, CNN averaged 531,000 viewers, up 22 percent.

MSNBC averaged 500,000 viewers, up 94 percent over October 2003, while its total day grew 40 percent to 281,000 viewers. “Hardball” averaged 612,000 viewers to finish second for the month to Fox’s “The Fox Report With Shepard Smith” (1.76 million) and ahead of CNN’s “Anderson Cooper” (596,000).