Fox News continued to dominate the cable news ratings in August while the battle for second place intensified between MSNBC and CNN.
Fox easily blew away the competition with an average of just under two million viewers per night in primetime, making it not only the top cable news network by a wide margin but the fourth overall of all cable networks in August. Fox beat both MSNBC and CNN combined in primetime by an average of more than 500,000 viewers per night, emphasizing just how dominant the network has become.
That left MSNBC and CNN to fight for the table scraps. And thanks to the breaking news events, from the S&P downgrade to Hurricane Irene, CNN was able to gain ground on MSNBC, which tends to lag when it comes to being able to fully cover breaking news events.
CNN’s primetime ratings increased 55% compared to a year ago. Anderson Cooper360, which moved to 8 p.m. during the month, saw a 74% gain in the key A25-54 demo from last year and managed to edge out MSNBC in that time slot, though a large part of that increase can be attributed to the absence of Lawrence O’Donnell at MSNBC who was dealing with the death of his mother.
Nevertheless it’s still a rare win for CNN. Even though it was by the thinnest of margins (723,000-714,000 viewers) they still get the bragging rights for the month between the two networks while they try and figure out how to close the million-plus viewer gap with Fox.