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Fox News Remains Ratings Champ As 2013 Comes to Close

It and rivals CNN, MSNBC down from last year

Fox News Channel maintained its grip on the cable-news network ratings prize in 2013, drawing more viewers than the combined averages of CNN, MSNBC and HLN.

It was a down year in terms of overall audience, as every newsie but HLN showed primetime declines from their Presidential Election-driven tallies of 2012.

According to Nielsen data through Dec. 8, Fox News Channel averaged 1.774 million viewers in primetime (down 13% from 2012) and 297,000 adults 25-54 (down 30%). It was followed by MSNBC with 645,000 viewers and 203,000 adults 25-54 (down 29% in both); CNN with 578,000 (down 15%) and 187,000 adults 25-54 (down 16%); and HLN with 403,000 total viewer (up 21%) and 142,000 in the demo (up 27%).

Among all basic cable networks in 2013, FNC ranked sixth in primetime while MSNBC was 29th and CNN was 31st. In total day, Fox ran fourth while CNN was 28th and MSNBC ran 30th; in 2012, CNN finished behind MSNBC. CNN and HLN showed some year-over-year gains on a total-day basis, while FNC and MSNBC were down.

Fox and CNN both made some significant changes to their lineup in 2013, with FNC’s revamped primetime lineup, introduced on Oct. 7, posting gains in both total viewers and adults 25-54 vs. the block’s 2013 season-to-date average. The newest program, “The Kelly File” with Megyn Kelly, has improved the 9 p.m. hour by 23% in total viewers and 13% in adults 25-54, and “The O’Reilly Factor” is the top show in cable news (2.78 million, 439,000 adults 25-54).

Also of note outside of primetime, “The Five” (5-6 p.m. ET) and “Red Eye” (3-4 a.m. ET) had their most-watched years to date.

Best news for CNN, which is on pace for its least-watched year on record in primetime, was that it was able to hold steady or rise a bit in various total-day categories, like afternoon show “The Lead With Jake Tapper,” which is second among the cable news nets in its timeslot. Morning show “News Day” is up a bit vs. last year in total viewers but is averaging less than 300,000 daily and is down vs. what the net was drawing in the time period earlier this year.

Elsewhere at CNN, the reboot of “Crossfire” has struggled, averaging 400,000 viewers, but the net made some noise — especially in the 25-54 demo — with some of its CNN Films specials.

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