Cable Ratings: Fox News Stays Ahead of Competition, Sees Uptick in Viewers, Demo

Perennial cable news leader, Fox News Channel finished the third quarter 2009 up among total viewers and news' target demographic of 25-54 year olds. FNC averaged 2.25 million total viewers in primetime (Monday through Sunday), for an uptick of 2% year-to-year, with 583,000 in the demo for a gain of 5%, according to Nielsen Media Research.

FNC was the third-ranked basic cable network among total viewers behind ESPN and USA. CNN came in at number 20 while MSNBC was 25th.

Led by The O’Reilly Factor (which averaged 3.3 million viewers), the network also had all ten of the top ten cable news programs among total viewers.

CNN finished the third quarter ahead of MSNBC in primetime among total viewers and the demo, topping MSNBC by 19% in total viewers (949,000 to 795,000) and 5% in the demo (288,000 to 275,000). MSNBC beat CNN in the primetime demo for the month of September averaging 284,000 viewers to CNN’s 245,000.

But both networks experienced double-digit ratings erosion in total viewers and the 25-54 sales demographic compared to third quarter 2008 when the presidential campaigns dominated news coverage.

At 7 p.m. Fox Report with Shepard Smith beat CNN and MSNBC in total viewers and the demo, averaging 1.8 million viewers and 452,000 in the demo. MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews topped CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight by 12% in the demo (197,000 viewers to 176,000). But Dobbs edged out Hardball in total viewers (658,000 to 654,000).

At 8 p.m., Countdown with Keith Olbermann out-rated CNN's Campbell Brown by 46% in the demo (334,000 to 228,000) and 34% in total viewers (1,087,000 to 811,000). O’Reilly attracted more viewers than both shows combined among total viewers (3.3 million) and the demo (855,000).

At 9 p.m., Larry King Live was in the No. 2 spot in the hour, out pacing The Rachel Maddow Show in the demo (350,000 to 298,000) and total viewers (1.2 million to 992,000). FNC’s Sean Hannity was No. 1 in the hour averaging 2.6 million viewers with 713,000 in the demo.

At 10 p.m. FNC’s On the Record with Greta Van Susteren finished the quarter in the top spot among total viewers (2.1 million) and the demo (589,000). Anderson Cooper 360 prevailed over a rerun of Countdown among total viewers (1 million to 683,000) and the demo (326,000 to 237,000).