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Cable News Ratings: Fox News Channel Still On Top

Fox News Channel was once again the top-rated cable news network for the month of May, another newsy month that included the announcement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter’s retirement, the ongoing American automotive industry crisis and dueling national security speeches from President Obama and former vice president Dick Cheney.

MSNBC again topped CNN in primetime in the 25-54 demographic, the third consecutive month MSNBC has beaten CNN in the demo. 

FNC had nine of the top-ten programs in cable news among total viewers, posting a 30% increase in primetime in the 25-54 demographic compared to May 2008, according to Nielsen Media Research.  MSNBC was down 9% and CNN was down 37%. HLN was up 40% to come within 2,000 viewers of CNN in the demo. MSNBC averaged 250,000 viewers in the demo in primetime to finish in second place behind CNN (194,000 viewers) and HLN (192,000 viewers). But FNC’s primetime demo tune-in beat MSNBC and CNN’s combined, averaging 463,000 demo viewers.

FNC’s signature programs posted double-digit ratings gains in total viewers and the demo.

Glenn Beck posted a 130% gain in the time period among demo viewers compared to the same period last year. The O’Reilly Factor and Hannity both posted 31% gains and On the Record with Greta Van Susteren was up 45%.

At 8 p.m., MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann was down 26% year-to-year, the show’s first such decline since September 2006. Countdown nevertheless beat out HLN’s Nancy Grace among demo viewers (323,000 versus 304,000) and CNN’s Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull (323,000 versus 159,000). FNC’s O’Reilly was tops in the hour with 702,000 demo viewers, marking its 102nd consecutive month as the top-rated cable news program.

At 9 p.m., MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow experienced a downturn, posting the weakest tune-in since the show’s September launch. But Maddow was still second in the time period among demo viewers, outpacing CNN’s Larry King Live (247,000 versus 232, 000). King claimed more total viewers (1 million versus 902,000). FNC’s Sean Hannity led the hour with 540,000 demo viewers.

At 10 p.m., CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 was down 34% year-to-year to 223,000 demo viewers, ending the month in third for the hour. FNC’s On the Record was first with 452,000 demo viewers followed by a rerun of HLN’s Nancy Grace with 234,000 viewers. A repeat of MSNBC’s Countdown was fourth with 209,000 demo viewers.