Election Keeps Cable Soaring

Jan 4, 2009  •  Post A Comment

The long and hard-fought presidential election proved to be the gift that kept on giving for cable news channels in 2008, with all enjoying year-to-year ratings growth.
After Barack Obama’s historic presidential victory, ratings began to return to earth, but Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC all racked up prime-time and total-day annual gains.
Proving that it is king of cable news no matter which way the political winds blow, Fox News Channel notched its best year ever for prime-time and total-day ratings, ranking fourth among all basic-cable channels in prime time.
For the first time ever, the battle for second place proved interesting. CNN, the oldest of the all-news channels, ranked 11th for the year in prime-time basic cable, and lost its grip on the key prime-time hours from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. to MSNBC. The NBC News cable channel ranked 22nd in prime-time basic cable, racking up its best year ever, with “Countdown With Keith Olbermann” and freshman “The Rachel Maddow Show” leading the way.
In prime time, FNC averaged 2.052 million average total viewers for the year (a 40% increase year-to-year), outdrawing CNN (1.292 million viewers, up 69%) and MSNBC (918,000 viewers, up 82%) combined.
In total-day, FNC averaged 1.057 million average total viewers (up 29%), while CNN averaged 695,000 (up 44%) and MSNBC averaged 468,000 (up 51%).
Among the 25- to 54-year-old viewers most sought by advertisers in news programming, the battle for dominance was tighter. FNC averaged 494,000 viewers in the demographic in prime time, with CNN averaging 453,000 and MSNBC averaging 364,000. For total-day, FNC averaged 276,000 viewers in the 25-54 demo, with CNN averaging 242,000 and MSNBC 189,000.
Despite a fourth-quarter loss of 40% of its prime-time audience compared to the six weeks leading up to the election, FNC still ranked third in total viewers for the quarter among all basic-cable channels. CNN lost 50% of its pre-election audience, while MSNBC lost 41%.

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