Fox News Channel posted across-the-board ratings increases during a month dominated by the vitriolic health care reform debate. In August, FNC posted its highest numbers in primetime in news' target demographic of 25-to-54 year olds for the year. A demo increase for FNC is significant because while it is the most-watched news network on cable, its audience generally skews older.
FNC averaged 2.29 million total viewers in primetime (Monday through Sunday) up 17% year-to-year and 590,000 in the demo, a 25% increase, according to Nielsen Media Research. CNN averaged 891,000 total viewers and 248,000 in the demo, down 32% and 45% respectively. MSNBC averaged 807,000 total viewers and 276,000 in the demo, down 2% and 14%, respectively. (August 2008 was dominated by election news and the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colo.).
Of the top-rated programs on cable news, FNC had 11 of them among total viewers and nine out of the top 10 programs in the demo, making it the third-ranked basic cable network in primetime viewership behind USA and TNT. CNN and MSNBC were 22nd and 25th, respectively.
The O'Reilly Factor was once again the top-rated cable news program among total viewers (3.38 million) and the demo (861,000), for year-to-year gains of 33% and up 62%, respectively. O'Reilly also had its five top-rated programs in 2009 in August.
CNN topped MSNBC in total viewers and in total day among viewers and the demo.
MSNBC beat CNN in the primetime demo for the month (Mon-Sun., 8-11 p.m.).
At 8 p.m., Countdownwith Keith Olbermann bested CNN's Campbell Brown by 62% in the demo (345,000 versus 213,000) and 43% among total viewers (1,087,000 versus 761,000).
At 9 p.m. Sean Hannity was the top-rated program with 2.64 million total viewers and 719,000 in the demo. The Rachel Maddow Show snuck by Larry King Live in the demo (304,000 versus 294,000). But Larry King prevailed among total viewers (1.08 million versus 996,000).
At 7 p.m. Fox Report with Shepard Smith averaged 1.74 million total viewers and 430,000 in the demo. Hardball with Chris Matthews out-rated Lou Dobbs Tonight in total viewers (647,000 versus 642,000) and in the demo (198,000 versus 175,000).
At 10 p.m., On the Record with Greta van Susteren easily prevailed averaging 2.14 million total viewers and 590,000 in the demo for year-to-year gains of 34% and 45%, respectively. Anderson Cooper 360 prevailed over a rerun of Countdown (866,000 versus 693,000) among total viewers and also eked out a win in the demo (260,000 versus 242,000).