Cable News Ratings: Fox News Still Tops

The Democratic administration of Barack Obama has not dented tune-in for Fox News Channel. On the contrary, the network finished February up 24% in total day (Monday-Sunday) and 21% in primetime (Monday-Friday) in news' target demographic of 25-54-year olds, compared to Feb. 2008.

FNC has been the top rated cable news network for 86 consecutive months, finishing February as the third most watched basic cable network in primetime.

CNN was 15th and MSNBC was 23rd. In primetime (M-F), FNC averaged 2.8 million viewers (657,000 in the demo). CNN averaged 1.3 million total viewers (407,000 in the demo) and MSNBC averaged 1.1 million viewers (377,000 in the demo).

HLN, which gets a fraction of the viewers that FNC does and still trails CNN and MSNBC, nevertheless posted some significant gains in February. The network was up 28% in total day and 62% in primetime. And HLN's Nancy Grace has now beaten MSNBC's Keith Olbermann for three consecutive months in the all-important sales demo. Buoyed by tragic cases of Caylee Anthony and Haleigh Cummings, Grace has posted gains of 74% and 83% in total viewers and the demo, respectively. The network's replacement for Glenn Beck, who jumped ship for FNC, has also improved the network's time period average. Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell has given HLN its highest 7 p.m. numbers in network history, up 74% in total viewers and 54% in the demo.

Clearly Velez-Mitchell is a better fit for HLN - and Beck is a better fit for FNC. He has improved the 5 p.m. time period at Fox News by 101% in total viewers and 121% in the demo.

Meanwhile, HLN's bigger sister network CNN experienced a primetime ratings slide in February. Lou Dobbs is down 15% in total viewers and 23% in the demo compared to Feb. 2008. Campbell Brown is down 6% in total viewers and 21% in the demo. And Anderson Cooper 360 is down 12% in total viewers and 25% in the demo. Only Larry King Live has posted year-to-year gains - up 19% in total viewers and 8% in the demo.

On MSNBC, Countdown and Rachel Maddow are up year-to-year in total viewers and the demo. Countdown posted gains of 32% in total viewers and 15% in the demo while Maddow improved the 9 p.m. time slot by 134% in total viewers and100% in the demo. But both programs experienced ratings erosion versus last month. Countdown was down 4% in total viewers and 8% in the demo while Maddow was down 8% in total viewers and 16% in the demo.