Fox News, which has been the top-rated cable news network for the last 12 years, blew away the competition and hit a historic high by finishing the third quarter as the overall top-rated cable network, beating even the normally top-rated sports network ESPN.
Fox has finished in this rarefied air once before—when the Iraq War broke out in 2003—but it has been nipping at the heels of ESPN and the USA Network with its frequent third-place finish in the quarterly ratings. And there is even better news for Fox. If the ratings are expanded to include On the Record with Greta Van Susteren—which airs in the time slot just before primetime officially begins—the network finishes at the top for the first time in its history.
The network averaged 1.79 million total viewers between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 313,000 in the A25-54 demo, which is up 12 percent from the same period a year ago. This also is the last time that the Fox News lineup will be measured against its old lineup, as October 7 marks the one-year anniversary of the addition of Megyn Kelly and the reshuffling of the primetime programs. Kelly’s ratings were up 27 percent, compared to Sean Hannity’s, who previously occupied the 9 p.m. time slot, thus proving that the moves have been very beneficial to FNC.
As usual, MSNBC and CNN lagged far behind, with MSNBC barely topping CNN in total viewers for the quarter—557,000 to 555,000—but losing the demo to CNN by a margin of 186,000 to 150,000.
Among cable news shows, FNC had the top 14 shows in total viewers and the top 10 in the demo, while the top MSNBC show was the Rachel Maddow Show, which finished 15th in total viewers and 21st in the demo. Maddow’s show wasn’t even MSNBC’s highest rated show in the demo—that honor went to the prison documentary series Lockup with 178,000 viewers, compared to Maddow’s 173,000. Both programs, however, trailed repeats of Shark Tank on CNBC which finished 14th in the demo with 198,000 viewers.
Fox News will be hard pressed to repeat this feat in a sports-heavy television schedule—especially with the NFL, NBA and NHL all resuming play during the fourth quarter—but they have made a statement that they are a force to be reckoned with and are here to stay, much to the consternation of liberals.