In the first full week after voters selected Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States, Fox News Channel still delivered much larger nightly audiences than usual
Conventional wisdom would suggest that cable news ratings were ripe for a precipitous fall once the cuticle-gnawing tension of the election finally abated on Nov. 4 at around 11 p.m. EST.
And yet, in the first full week after voters selected Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States, Fox News Channel still delivered much larger nightly audiences than usual.
Driven largely by its 8 p.m. program The O’Reilly Factor, Fox News retained the greatest share among the three cable news nets in the week ended Nov. 16, averaging 2.49 million total viewers in prime, a drop of 30 percent versus the prior week’s 3.54 million viewers. More tellingly, Fox News delivered a nightly audience that was 40 percent larger than what it managed in the year-ago period (1.49 million viewers).
FNC also averaged 580,000 viewers in its core demo, marking a 68 percent increase in delivery of adults 25-54 versus the week ended Nov. 18, 2007.
All told, FNC last week finished third among ad-supported cable nets, trailing only ESPN (3.43 million viewers) and USA Network (2.61 million).
CNN fell 58 percent week-to-week, averaging a 10th-place 1.38 million viewers in prime versus 3.29 million. The news net bettered its year-ago delivery of 1.18 million total viewers by 16 percent, according to Nielsen Media Research data.
The news net put up solid numbers among the 25-54 set, averaging 492,000, a 36 percent increase versus last year’s 361,000.
MSNBC hung tough last week, claiming 11th place in prime with 1.31 million viewers, a whopping 143 percent improvement versus the year-ago period (539,000). The network also pumped up its demo ratings significantly, averaging 499,000 adults 25-54, an increase of 130 percent (217,000).
During the week of the election, MSNBC averaged 2.17 million viewers, out-delivering last week’s 1.31 million by 40 percent.
Politics aside, the top 10 programs on ad-supported cable last week were liberally distributed among the sports, general entertainment and kids categories.
ESPN notched the week’s most-watched program with its Nov. 10 Monday Night Football match-up between the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals, which drew 11.9 million viewers. The game also swept the three major demos.
Comedy Central mined yuks and big ratings with the hour-long Jeff Dunham’s Very Special Christmas Special, which bowed Sunday night at 9 p.m. to 6.61 million viewers. The ventriloquist also delivered the week’s second-highest concentration of viewers 18-49 and 25-54, and took third among the 18-34 crowd.
ESPN also served up cable’s third-largest audience of the week, averaging 4.96 million viewers with its Nov. 15 presentation of the Alabama-Mississippi State game. The top-ranked Crimson Tide rolled all over the Bulldogs 32-7, setting the table for a showdown with No. 3 Florida in the SEC championship game.
Nickelodeon claimed the week’s fourth-largest delivery, serving up 4.83 million iCarly fans on Monday, Nov. 11, with the 90-minute special iGo to Japan.
Other top programs on ad-supported cable were: USA’s WWE Raw, which averaged 4.64 million viewers Nov. 10 from 9 p.m.-11 p.m.; the NFL Network’s coverage of Thursday night’s Jets-Patriots showdown (4.41 million); USA’s Nov. 11 repeat of NCIS (4.29 million); Lifetime’s original movie The Two Mr. Kissels, which scared up 4.17 million viewers Saturday night in the 9 p.m.-11 p.m. time slot; and a new episode of Nick’s iCarly, which averaged 4.14 million viewers Saturday night at 8 p.m.
Nov 18, 2008
-By Anthony Crupi, Media Week Magazine