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.