Fox News continued its ratings dominance by finishing in first place among all cable news networks in 2013, for the twelfth straight year.
It was a complete victory, as the network beat CNN and MSNBC combined in both Total Day and primetime viewers. Fox finished fourth overall among basic-cable networks in Total Day, with CNN and MSNBC far down the list at 28th and 30th respectively. In primetime, Fox ranked sixth among all cable networks, with MSNBC in 29th place and CNN in 31st.
Fox’s decision to revamp its primetime lineup in October by adding Megyn Kelly, moving Sean Hannity to 10 p.m. and Greta Van Susteren to 7 p.m. paid big dividends, with Kelly up 23% in total viewers and 13% in the 25-54 demo, and Hannity up 13% in total and 17% in the demo.
While Fox continues to roll along, the same can’t be said for MSNBC and CNN, which were left fighting for whatever audience was left. CNN saw some hope in 2013 by beating MSNBC in Total Day—but trailed the left-wing network badly in primetime—showing that CNN’s new president Jeff Zucker still has a lot of work to do if he is to restore the network to its former glory, when it dominated the cable news landscape.
And MSNBC, whose president Phil Griffin boasted that the network would overtake Fox, stumbled badly with poor programming decisions, such as new shows for Chris Hayes and Alec Baldwin. Those moves, along with the “resignation” of Martin Bashir, proved that Griffin is no match for Fox’s Roger Ailes’ programming skills.
2014 is unlikely to bring any changes to how Fox, MSNBC and CNN fare overall, though I wouldn’t count out Jeff Zucker just yet. He still has room to maneuver and make the changes necessary to make MSNBC nervous about its current ratings position.