After dominating the all-news category for years, Cable News Network will likely share first-place laurels with rival Fox News Channel in 2001.
Through Dec. 17, CNN and Fox News have both averaged a 1.0 Nielsen Media Research rating in primetime and a 0.6 in total-day measurement.
Most of the news networks — driven in large part by increased viewer interest since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — have registered significant household delivery gains year-to-date. Fox News has notched by far the largest increase, jumping 120 percent in total-day delivery and 102 percent in primetime. CNN's households grew 46 percent in the total-day category and 34 percent in primetime.
But CNN, which still counts more subscribers than Fox News, pulled 813,000 households in primetime and 494,000 in total day, topping Fox News's respective totals of 672,000 and 381,000.
MSNBC, which debuted in 1996 along with Fox News, remains a distant third despite some major upticks of its own. The network averaged a 0.4 rating in primetime (up 51 percent) and a 0.6 total-day rating (up 44 percent).
CNN Headline News — which revamped its look and replaced its on-air talent last summer — has posted a 42 percent year-to-date increase in primetime, for a 0.3 rating and 203,000 households. The network notched a 0.2 rating and 191,000 households in the total-day measurement, up 35 percent from last year.
Business-news network CNBC, which has had trouble maintaining its ratings while covering a weakened economy and other major news stories, was the only news network that lost viewers in total-day. With two weeks to go in 2001, CNBC had generated a 0.3 rating and 266,000 households in total day, off 2 percent from the same period last year. CNBC's primetime ratings increased by 7 percent to a 0.4 rating and 321,000 households.
Making matters worse, CNBC's flagship Business Center
was beaten handily by CNN's Lou Dobbs Moneyline
and Fox News's Your World with Neil Cavuto, both of which benefited from strong ratings from their general news lead-ins. Dobbs and Cavuto were tied, averaging a 0.5 rating through Dec. 17. That topped the 0.3 rating generated by Business Center.
Fox News's The O'Reilly Factor
was the highest-rated regularly scheduled news program in primetime, averaging a 1.6 rating. O'Reilly dethroned CNN's Larry King Live, which placed second, with a 1.4 rating.