No October Ratings Surprise: Cable News Nets Dominate Monthly Ratings Charts

While the 2016 Presidential campaign produced several “October surprises” with regards to breaking news, there wasn’t much surprise regarding the ratings success of major cable news networks during the month.

Bolstered by coverage of the Presidential race between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump – including big ratings numbers for the Oct. 19 third and final Presidential Debate as well as news revelations affecting both campaigns -- Fox News finished as the most watched cable network in primetime during the period of Oct. 15 to Oct. 16, according to Nielsen. The news network topped all entertainment, sports and news networks with an average of 3.1 million primetime viewers, up a whopping 73% increase compared to the same period last year.

Also finishing among the top 10 most watched networks in primetime in October were CNN (1.9 million viewers, up 95% compared to Oct. 2015), which finished third and MSNBC (1.7 million, up 162% year to year), which took the sixth spot on the ratings chart.

CNBC (294,000, down 19%), HLN (288,000, up 4%) and the Fox Business Network (146,000, up 156%), rounded out the cable news network primetime ratings list for the month, according to Nielsen.

In the key adult 25-54 demo, CNN bested Fox News for the first time in 15 years, averaging 714,000 demo viewers in primetime to Fox News’ 675,000 and MSNBC’s 443,000, according to Nielsen.

CNBC outlasted Fox Business Network among adults 25-54 in primetime but Fox Business bested CNBC for the first time during the “business day” hours of 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. among total viewers for the month, according to the network.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.