It’s old news by now that Fox News Channel dominates the cable news ratings. It’s also old news that competing network CNN is going through a ratings crisis at the moment.
But here’s a fresh angle to consider: CNN crushes FNC on the digital side.
MediaWeek’s Mike Shields reports (emphasis our own):
Foxnews.com averages around 12 million or 13 million monthly unique users, according to Nielsen Online, rarely approaching the 35 million to 40 million uniques that leaders Yahoo News, MSNBC and CNN regularly deliver in aggregate. Some of that disparity can be explained away, as both Yahoo and MSNBC draw heavy traffic from their portal counterparts, and CNN benefits from traffic driven by CNNMoney.com and Sports Illustrated’s site.
But even on its own, CNN.com consistently beats Foxnews.com by 7 million or 8 million unique users. Per comScore, the gap is even larger: 43.4 million uniques for CNN.com in June vs. 11.4 million for Foxnews.com. Plus, CNN.com regularly bests Foxnews.com in measures like page views, time spent and video streams—and it has opened an early lead in mobile (14 million uniques vs. 9 million in May for Fox, per Nielsen).
FNC executives declined to participate in the article—no shocker there, notes Inside Cable News. (The executive in charge of the website is Ken LaCorte, vice president and senior executive producer of FoxNews.com.)
But here are a few theories that might account for the digital gap:
- FNC was late to the online game (same as it was with its iPhone app, though its since picked up speed and gotten ahead with an app for Google’s Android).
- FNC viewers skew older; its audience is “composed of significantly higher percentages of the 45+ and 65+ demos,” according to Nielsen.
- FNC’s small-screen magic doesn’t work on the web: “People shouting at each other doesn’t translate to a mass audience online,” said a CNN exec.
The lingering question, as Shields puts it, is “whether Fox’s lack of digital success could eventually undermine its influence in American news—particularly as a younger generation gravitates toward getting its headlines from iPhones and iPads rather than TV.”
Tell us what you think in the comments.
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