NEW YORK — Audience levels plunged at cable news nets in October compared with last fall, when the major headline was the three-week reign of terror by the D.C. snipers.
Fox News Channel was down the least of the nets, although it too saw steep double-digit declines across all shows, according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research figures for October. The month officially ended Sunday for Nielsen.
It is commonplace for cable news auds to soar during a big, breaking story, and then quickly subside.
Also last month, cable news nets lost viewers to the baseball championships.
But even with the sports playoffs and the lack of a major news story, cable news nets could be also suffering some of the same audience slump gripping entertainment nets.
In total viewers, CNN was down 45% compared with October of last year, the most of any net. Fox News was down 27%; MSNBC, 41%; and CNN Headline News 37%.
MSNBC was down the most in the key news demo adults 25-54, posting a 51% decline, according to Nielsen. Fox News was down 39%; CNN Headline News, 46%; and CNN, 48%.
Among all the cable news net, programs were down substantially across all dayparts — even at Fox News.
In primetime, CNN’s “Larry King Live” was down the least in terms of total viewers. King’s show, which airs at 9 p.m. ET, had 20% fewer viewers than in October. King was down 32% in the key news demo adults 25-54, according to Nielsen. Also at 8 p.m. ET, Fox News’ “Hannity & Colmes” was down 28% in total viewers and 39% in adults 25-54.
Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” remained the No. 1 cable news program last month, with show host Bill O’Reilly showing the least loss in the 8 p.m. ET hour, although even he was spared a substantial hit. “Factor” was down 29% from last year in total viewers, and 45% in the key news demo adults 25-54, according to Nielsen.
CNN’s new 8 p.m. news hour, “Paula Zahn Now” was down 46% in total viewers and 58% in adults 25-54, compared with last October, when Connie Chung’s talkshow occupied that slot.
For the 7 p.m. ET hour, CNN’s other new show, “Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees,” sustained the biggest hit in October, showing a 52% loss in total viewers and a 52% decline in adults 25-54 compared to the same frame last year, according to Nielsen.