Fox News has not only beaten fellow cable news networks CNN and MSNBC in the ratings, but the channel now draws more viewers than any other cable network, except for longtime ratings champ USA.
Rupert Murdoch’s news channel has been the second most-watched ad-supported cable network for the past 10 weeks. But that’s not good enough for News Corp. Fox News has set its sights on beating USA, the most-watched cable channel in primetime every week in 2009.
But observers think that goal might be too lofty for the ambitious channel. During Q1, Fox News averaged 2.26 million viewers to USA’s 3.26 million viewers, Mediaweek reports. The closest Fox News came to passing USA on a weekly basis was the week ending March 15, when it drew just 373,000 fewer viewers than NBC Universal’s cable channel.
Many think it’s unlikely USA will be overtaken in the primetime ratings battle until Q4 when ESPN starts running Monday Night Football again.
USA also dominates all of the major demos, including adults 25-54 (1.54 million of USA’s viewers in Q1) and 18-49 (1.46 million). Fox News averaged 515,000 viewers aged 25-54 and 375,000 viewers in the coveted 18-49 demo.
Still, if Fox News achieves its goal, it will use its ratings triumph to suggest that news in general is driving growth in cable viewers. “This is a great chance for us to step back and say, ‘By the way, virtually all the growth in cable over the last year has been a result of news’,” Paul Rittenberg, Fox News senior vp of ad sales told Mediaweek. “If even two guys who don’t have news on their spec sheet say, ‘Hey let’s take a look at this,’ then I’m happy.”
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