2004 Annual Report - Cable TV Economics
While some ambiguity hovers over which cable news channel attracts more people, there is no question when it comes to which is winning the dollar war.
Here the leader is not Fox News but CNN.
CNN's operating profits are roughly five times those of Fox News, while MSNBC has barely broken even so far.
While Fox News has closed the gap, and the trends may become more worrisome to CNN with time, the distance between them remains sizable. Some narrowing might be expected, but CNN still has some advantages in its multiple channels to sell to advertisers.
CNN's operating profits, according to data collected by Kagan World Media, a media market research company, rose from $277 million in 1997 to $297 million in 2002. Fox News went from operating at a loss of $84 million to having a profit of $60 million. MSNBC almost moved out of the red, from losing $60 million in 1997 to losing just $300,000 in 2001, before dropping back to a loss of $15.5 million in 2002.
Kagan's estimates for 2003 suggest that Fox News has made further inroads: it was projected to increase its profits from $60 million in 2002 to $96 million in 2003, a 60 percent increase. CNN, however, after a drop in 2002, was projected to climb from $297 million to $351 million in profit in 2003, a 15 percent increase. MSNBC was projected to break into the black with an operating profit of $3.1 million.