Election Lifts Cable News Networks Into Top 5

Nov 11, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first African American president wasn’t the only reason the week of Nov. 3 was historic.
However, it was the major reason that the five most-watched basic-cable news channels in prime time included three cable news channels.
For News Channel ranked first in prime time for the week with an average 3.54 million viewers. CNN, which notched its biggest-ever prime-time audience, ranked second among all basic cable-channels in prime time with an average 3.29 million viewers. MSNBC was ranked fifth, behind ESPN and USA Network, with an average 2.17 million viewers.
For total-day, Fox News Channel ranked second for the week (behind Nickelodeon) with an average 1.66 million total viewers. CNN ranked third with 1.634 million. MSNBC finished ninth with 1.02 million.
One of the questions facing the cable networks is how much of that campaign-driven audience they will be able to retain post-election.
Fox retained 48% of its Election Day bounce throughout the following three days. MSNBC retained 39% of its Tuesday audience. CNN retained 29%.
There was a similar pattern among the 25- to 54-year-old viewers that are the key news demo. Fox retained 48% of its Election Day viewers in the demo. MSNBC retained 32%. CNN retained 24%.
In another example of the magnetism of Election Night coverage, 13-month-old Fox Business Network, whose audience frequently is still too small to publish on the same schedules as other cable networks, averaged a 0.2 household ratings point a handful of times that evening. At 10 p.m., that rating translated into a peak 120,000 viewers, 68,000 of them in the 25-54 demo.
(2:40 p.m.: Added final paragraph)

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