Fox News Channel will finish 2009 as the top-rated cable news network, a perch it has enjoyed for eight years running. But 2009 - the first year of the Obama administration - also marks FNC's highest-rated year in the channel's 13-year-history.
FNC topped the competition in all dayparts: morning (1 million total viewers, 340,000 viewers in news' target demographic of 25-54-year-olds); total day (1.2 million viewers, 323,000 in the demo); primetime (2.2 million viewers, 551,000 in the demo). Those numbers mark year-to-year demo gains of 14% in the morning, 16% in total day and 10% in primetime (Mon-Sun), according to Nielsen.
The only other cable news network to gain market share year-to-year is HLN, which is still comparatively small, but has gained on sister network CNN in 2009.
MSNBC can also mark a milestone, as it will finish 2009 ahead of CNN in the primetime demo (8-11 p.m. Mon-Sun) for the first time, giving it a second-place finish in that category with an average of 284,000 viewers compared to CNN's 269,000. Meanwhile, for fourth quarter 2009, CNN is on pace to finish fourth in the primetime demo weeknights behind FNC, MSNBC and HLN.
For the year, CNN still tops MSNBC among total viewers (917,000 versus 822,000) in primetime. Both networks saw declines compared to network highs in 2008. MSNBC is down 24% in the primetime demo while CNN is down 42%.
CNN is still the second most-watched cable news network in total day averaging 614,000 total viewers and 186,000 in the demo; those numbers mark year-to-year declines of 12% and 24% respectively.