Viewers Continuing to Flock to Cable News Networks

The third quarter numbers for the cable news networks are officially out today. Overall, the stretch from June 30 to Sept. 28 proved to be yet another strong period for the cable news networks, especially compared to the gloomy news coming from newspapers and broadcast television networks.

Today, each of the major cable news networks fired off press releases touting their achievements.

From Fox News:

FOX News Channel (FNC) continued its ratings dominance among its cable news competition in all categories during the third quarter of 2008 according to Nielsen Media Research. During an unprecedented period for political and financial news and events, FNC was once again the highest rated cable news network for the 27th consecutive Quarter (see below). Among all basic cable channels, FNC ranked 4th for the Quarter in prime time viewership, with CNN and MSNBC lagging behind at 9th and 23rd, respectively.*

In prime time, FNC commanded an overwhelming lead with an average of 2,198,000 viewers for Q3 2008, compared with CNN’s 1,342,000 and MSNBC’s 867,000. In total day, FNC led the cable news competition again with 1,123,000 total viewers compared to CNN’s 713,000 and MSNBC’s 472,000.**

FNC secured nine out of the top 10 programs in cable news for the Quarter based on total viewership. The O’Reilly Factor, which has been #1 for 94 consecutive months, led all programs with 2,939,000 viewers while continuing to gain viewers year-to-year. Rounding out the top five programs were: Hannity & Colmes; On The Record with Greta Van Susteren; Special Report with Brit Hume and The FOX Report with Shepard Smith.***

Q3 2008 & September 2008 Program Records:

Studio B w/ Shepard Smith – 2nd highest Quarter & 3rd highest month in program history.

Your World w/ Neil Cavuto: 2nd highest Quarter & 4th highest month in program history.

Special Report with Brit Hume: HIGHEST Quarter ever & 4th highest month in program history.

The O’Reilly Factor: 3rd highest Quarter & 2nd highest month in program history.

Hannity & Colmes: 2nd highest Quarter & 2nd highest month in program history.

On The Record: 3rd highest Quarter & 3rd highest month in program history.

In September of 2008, FNC also maintained a considerable lead over CNN and MSNBC in both total viewers and in the 25-54 demographic during prime time and total day. Among all basic cable channels, FNC ranked 2nd for the month of September in prime time viewership, compared with CNN and MSNBC finishing 4th and 14th, respectively. September 2008 marked the 81st consecutive month FNC has led all cable news competition in total day and prime time viewership.****

From CNN:

In Q3 08, CNN had its best quarter in over five years (since the Iraq War began in early 2003) in both total day and prime time among total viewers and adults 25-54. In addition, CNN grew the most of any cable news network in both today day and prime time among the key demo adults 25-54 compared to a year ago (Q3 07), with double-digit demo increases each weekday hour from 6a to midnight (see attached chart). Viewers turned to CNN for a variety of news in the third quarter including the political conventions, two hurricanes and the ongoing turmoil in the markets. In total day, CNN delivered 714k total viewers, up 43% from 501k in Q3 07, and 250k in the 25-54 demo, up 47% from 170k. In prime time (M-Su), CNN delivered 1.346 million total viewers, up 68% from 801k in Q3 07, and 473k in 25-54, up an impressive 85% from 256k.

Throughout the month of September, CNN also showed tremendous growth compared to a year ago (Sept. 07) with triple digit gains in total day and prime in both total viewers and among adults 25-54. In total day, CNN averaged 993k in total viewers in September, up 107% from 480k a year ago, and 358k in 25-54, up 114% from 167k. In prime time (M-Su), CNN delivered 1.915 million total viewers, up 165% from 724k a year ago, and 698k in 25-54, up a staggering 181% from 248k. CNN’s gains in both dayparts surpassed those made by FNC and MSNBC and its daypart deliveries were the network’s best since September 2005 (Hurricane Katrina). Additionally, CNN posted double or triple digit gains for every hour in total viewers and the demo from 6a to midnight for the month. (see attached chart).

Headline News’ Nancy Grace and Glenn Beck had their best quarters ever in total viewers, not only for their original 7p and 8p telecasts, but also for their same-night 9p and 10p rebroadcasts. Nancy Grace at 8p attracted 924k total viewers and 355k adults 25-54, setting show records in both demos and double-digit growth over a year ago (up 67% and 85%, respectively). At 10p, Nancy Grace achieved the same feat, with a record 559k total viewers and 254k adults 25-54 (up 44% and 55% over Q3 07, respectively). Glenn Beck at 7p delivered its best total viewer quarterly audience ever with 376k (up 21% versus Q3 07). At 9p Glenn Beck posted a record 487k total viewers and 173k adults 25-54 (up 33% and 44% over Q3 07, respectively).

During the month of August, the CNN Digital Network had the highest average time per person – 35.8 minutes – among the Top 5 news and information sites. (Source: Nielsen Online Home/Work Panel) CNN Digital set other records as it served 127 million video streams, making August the highest month ever for the network’s video streams served, representing an increase in usage of 88% year-to-date. Live served more than 6.3 million live streams during the month, quadrupling the amount of live video streams served over the prior four-week period. (Source: Nielsen Online and Omniture SiteCatalyst), the online gateway to the site’s up-to-the-minute political coverage, garnered its one billionth page view since launching less than a year ago. The CNN Digital Network was the most used online news entity during both the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention. During the four days of the DNC the CNN Digital Network garnered 182.7 million usage minutes, 8.7 million more than MSNBC and 28.7 million more than Yahoo! News. During the four days of the RNC, CNN Digital also garnered 207.6 million usage minutes, 42.5 million more than Yahoo! News and 45.6 million more than MSNBC.

CNN continues to reach more viewers than FNC or MSNBC with nearly 90 million tuning in during the month of September, its highest level since the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in September 2005.

P2+: CNN 89,137,000; FNC 69,620,000; MSNBC 63,322,000; HLN 59,422,000

P25-54: CNN 41,760,000; FNC 30,772,000; MSNBC 30,281,000; HLN 28,571,000


NEW YORK – Oct. 1, 2008 – MSNBC continues its pace as the fastest growing network in cable news, growing 48 percent in total viewers in the third quarter, and up a huge 81 percent in primetime. MSNBC is also the number one news network among younger viewers, Adults 18-34, for the second consecutive quarter. "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" maintains its huge ratings advantage over "CNN Election Center" in 3Q, outdrawing CNN by 23 percent among Adults 25-54 and by 24 percent in total viewers. "Countdown" is also the number one show at 8 p.m. among viewers 18-34.

All data is time period data, live plus same-day, from Nielsen Media Research. Other MSNBC highlights:

In total day (6a-6a), MSNBC is up a strong 48% in total viewers vs. 3Q07 (476,000 vs. 321,000), the strongest growth of any cable news network, and was up 42% among A25-54 (192,000 vs. 135,000). MSNBC is also the number one cable news network among younger viewers, A18-34 (77,000)

In primetime (M-F, 8-11 pm), MSNBC is up a huge 81% in total viewers from 3Q07, the most growth of any cable news network (1,034,000 vs. 571,000).

"Countdown with Keith Olbermann" continues its ratings dominance over CNN in 3Q, with a 24% advantage in A25-54 (431,000 vs. 350,000) and a 23% lead in total viewers (1,242,000 vs. 1,001,000). "Countdown" is also the #1 cable news show at 8 p.m. among Adults 18-34 (171,000).

Through last week, "The Rachel Maddow Show" is averaging 1,640,000 total viewers, 125% higher than the 3Q 9 p.m. average through 9/7/08, and 568,000 A25-54, up 102%.

"Morning Joe" is the fastest growing morning show in cable news, up 80% in A25-54 in 3Q (124,000 vs. 69,000), and up 57% in total viewers (344,000 vs. 219,000).

"Hardball with Chris Matthews" is the fastest growing cable news show at 7 p.m., up 77% in A25-54 from 3Q07 (249,000 vs. 141,000) and up 86% in total viewers (769,000 vs. 414,000).

Viewers Continuing to Flock to Cable News Networks