September 12, 2006

A Hot Summer for Cable News

CNN MSNBC Fox News Total
Jan. 463 222 901 1586
Feb. 440 263 845 1548
Mar. 408 208 770 1386
Apr. 408 230 766 1404
May. 402 211 760 1373
Jun. 408 204 789 1401
Jul. 563 229 968 1760
Aug. 580 266 968 1814

It’s a fact of cable news life that ratings soar when major events occur, driving viewers to the TV screen for constant updates and instant coverage. And the Nielsen numbers indicate that the combined daytime cable news viewership reached its highest levels of the year during July and August when rockets and bombs were raining down in Lebanon and Israel.

While all three cable news networks may have done brisk business during the conflict, there is no evidence that the competitive relationship between the three rivals has changed. The good news for MSNBC and CNN is that they attracted their largest daytime audiences of 2006 in August. The even better news for the Fox News Channel is that it also registered a very strong July and August and continued to maintain its ratings dominance over its two rivals. In fact, Fox’s daytime audience is still larger than that of runner-up CNN and third-place MSNBC combined.