While the arrival of 2013 rang in a happy new year, it also brought in happy ratings for the Fox News Channel, which continued to dominate the cable news channel race in total viewers and the Adult 24-54 demographic for the 11th consecutive year.
According to a news release from FNC, Nielsen Media Research found that the network completed the previous 12 months with the top 11 programs in total viewers. Demonstrating the network's dominance is the fact that the evening audience for Fox News topped the ratings of CNN, MSNBC and CNN combined with an average of 2,071,000, up 11 percent.
Among all basic cable networks, Fox News Channel ranked third in prime time viewers, trailing only USA Network and ESPN while easily bypassing both MSNBC and CNN, which came in 19th and 29th, respectively.
During 2012, the Fox News prime time line-up attracted 2.043 million total viewers and 423,000 in the 24-54 demographic, while the daytime programs had an average of 1.152 million total views and 273,000 in the important age demographic.
As usual, the top-rated program was “The O'Reilly Factor,” which dominated in both total viewers (2,973,000) and adults (578,000).
Filling out the top five programs in total viewers were “Hannity”(2,299,000); “Special Report With Bret Baier” (1,950,000); “On the Record With Greta Van Susteren” (1,867,000); and “The Five” (1,830,000).
FNC's supremacy carried into the channel's daytime ratings, where viewership rose across the board. The morning show “Fox & Friends” and the late-night program “Red Eye” delivered their highest-rated year ever in total viewers.
While the daytime schedule had 1.152 million total views and 273,000 in the important age demographic, Fox News was fourth among all cable networks. MSNBC -- which climbed 15 percent -- came in 24th and CNN -- which dropped 15 percent -- was ranked in 31st place.
Also, CNN's evening programming fell 3 percent while MSNBC's viewers rose 18 percent.
However, Alex Weprin of Media Bistro noted that “the election didn’t provide much in the way of a ratings bump, with the network only up a bit in total viewers, and down slightly in the demo.”
Unlike CNN, which was down in both total and demo viewers just about every hour, and MSNBC, which was up in both categories just about every hour, Fox News had some high points and low points, with most of its programs roughly on par with their 2011 performances.
“The network’s dayside news programming saw the most consistency, with the 10 a.m. edition of “America’s Newsroom” and the 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. installments of “Happening Now” posting growth in both total and demo viewers,” Weprin stated..
Meanwhile,“America Live” at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. was up double digits in the adult and high single digits in total viewers compared to 2011, he stated.
Dominic Patten at deadline.com analyzed the ratings figures from a political point of view.
“The News Corp-owned channel finished No. 1 in prime time total viewers this election year,” he noted before stating that “all of the cable news networks were down in prime time viewership from the 2008 election.”
“In second place in 2008 with a prime time viewership of 1.3 million, CNN suffered the biggest drop four years later,” Patten added.
With almost 11.5 million viewers on October 22, Fox News hit an all-time network viewership high with coverage of the third debate between President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney.
While MSNBC's promotion of its 2012 ratings increase led to several anchors “spiking the football” over President Obama's re-election, this study clearly shows that Fox News Channel is still the best in the league, and its competitors have a long way to go if they want to play in the same ballpark.