Fox News Doubles Down on CNN, MSNBC in February Ratings

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With its shows continuing to draw the top spots in the sector - the first 12 among viewers, the top eight among the news demo -- Fox News Channel doubled the combined totals of rivals CNN and MSNBC during February.
Starting its 11th year atop the cable news ratings, Fox News Channel averaged 1.92 million primetime viewers from Jan. 30 through Feb. 26, versus 1.93 million in February 2011, a period that reflected activities from the "Arab Spring." Among that total, which was tied for fourth in basic-cable overall in February, were 415,000 adults 25 to 54, down 10% from last year, according to Nielsen data.
CNN, which benefited from the Republican presidential debate in Arizona, scored a 20% increase to 807,000 total viewers, while posting a 31% to 283,000 adults 25 to 54. MSNBC, despite a 3% drop, came in second among viewers with 827,000, but third in the demo with 237,000 of those watchers, down 9% from the corresponding period a year ago.
In total day, FNC, despite a 2% dip from February 2011, averaged 1.09 million watchers, a total that included 270,000 in the demo, a 6% decrease. CNN placed second in February in total-day with both viewers 475,000 (down 2%) and 163,000 demo watchers (up 2.5%). For its part, MSNBC averaged 455,000 viewers, a 1% uptick, and 145,000 adults 25 to 54, a 1% dip.
On the individual programming side, FNC's Fox & Friends was the only cable news morning program to post year-to-year increases in total viewers, improving 9% to 1.2 million viewers while beating CNN, MSNBC and HLN combined in viewers. Fox & Friends also beat CBS This Morning, in six of the top 20 DMAs -- Atlanta, Detroit, Phoenix, Tampa, Cleveland, Orlando -- in total viewers.
The Five finished February with its highest-rated month with 372,000 adults 25 to 54 watchers, since its launch last July.
The Fox Report with Shepard Smith, which ranked as third-most-watched cable new show overall, ran its skein as the top cable news program in the 7 p.m. hour to 125 months.
CNN scored big with its coverage of the funeral of songstress Whitney Houston on Feb. 18 and tallied 4.73 million viewers with the GOP debate from Arizona on Feb. 22. The network also saw Anderson Cooper 360 top MSNBC's Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell among adults 25 to 54 at 10 p.m.
Conversely, MSNBC pointed to The Last Word outgunning Anderson Cooper for the ninth consecutive month among viewers, 963,000 to 702,000. The show was first among persons 18 to 34 for the month and registered growth with watchers 17% and the news demo (7%) from February 2011.
The network's top program, The Rachel Maddow Show, beat CNN's Piers Morgan by 63% among viewers -- 1.07 million to 659,000 - and 37% with the demo: 290,000 to 212,000.

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