Accuracy in Media

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Another year, another ratings win for Fox News Channel.

For the 14th consecutive year Fox News Channel has finished as the top-rated cable news network by a wide margin, with gains in every major segment except for the total-day demo, which fell 3 percent compared to 2014.

CNN posted significant gains—albeit from a low base—and MSNBC fell further behind as it moved away from all-liberal programming to a more news centered operation. MSNBC lost 18 percent of its audience in the total-day demo and 19 percent in primetime. They did experience a bounce in the fourth quarter, but it’s too early to tell if that trend will continue into 2016.

Even more impressive than Fox News’ cable news ratings victory was the network’s second place finish in all of cable television for the year, trailing only ESPN. Fox News averaged 1.8 million viewers in primetime, recording the highest finish ever for a cable news channel.

Led by The O’Reilly Factor, which finished as the No.1 program in the key demo for the 15th straight year and total viewers for the 14th consecutive year, Fox News aired eight of the top 10 cable news show in the A25-54 demo.

Other shows that did well included The Kelly File with Megyn Kelly, whose ratings rose 16 percent in the demo in spite of, or maybe because of, the tiff with Donald Trump. Both On the Record with Greta Van Susteren and Hannity were up in the demo, while Special Report, anchored by Bret Baier, delivered the network’s largest average audience in the 6 p.m. time-slot in six years.

All three of the major cable news networks undoubtedly benefited from the entrance of Donald Trump into the GOP presidential race—racking up record ratings for the debates. And with Trump still sitting atop the polls, they will likely continue to see a ratings boost well into 2016.

One thing that isn’t likely to change is Fox News’ dominance of cable news. With an average primetime total audience of over one million viewers more than CNN, it will be a long time—if ever—before Fox News surrenders the top slot.

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