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Megyn Kelly’s Primetime Debut Wins In Total Viewers

Positive signs for first rejiggered Fox News primetime lineup in more than a decade

Fox News Channel’s “The Kelly File” handily beat rivals in total viewers, an auspicious start for the network’s first new primetime program in more than a decade, as well as its host, Megyn Kelly.

According to early Nielsen totals, Fox News Channel’s “The Kelly File” lured nearly 2.1 million viewers between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m,. Monday evening, compared with 997,466 for MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” and 529,946 for CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight.” The figures could change slightly.

PHOTOS: Fox News’ Primetime Lineup

MSNBC’s “Maddow”  secured more viewers among audiences between 25 and 54 years of age, the demographic most coveted by advertisers in news programming. “Maddow” attracted 298,543 in the demo, according to Nielsen, compared with 289,264 for “Kelly” and 144,602 for “Piers Morgan.” Ad buyers have said they have come to expect the largest viewership for cable news from Fox News Channel.

“Kelly File” joins a Fox News Channel primetime lineup that has been rejiggered for only the fifth time in its 17-year history, as the network hopes to maintain its audience lead while testing new ways to deliver breaking news to viewers. Gone is the outlet’s traditional evening newscast in the form of a 7 p.m. program anchored by Shepard Smith. Sean Hannity and Greta van Susteren, both network stalwarts, have moved to 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. , respectively, from 10 p.m. and 9 p.m.

PHOTOS: Faces of Fox News

The four-hour lineup of “On The Record with Greta van Susteren,” “The O’Reilly Factor,” “The Kelly File” and “Hannity” brought in more viewers overall than the MSNBC and CNN lineups combined, according to the early Nielsen figures. Fox News Channel generated more than 2 million viewers, compared with 1,009,000 for MSNBC and 516,000 for CNN. Among viewers between 25 and 54, Fox News Channel attracted 329,000, while MSNBC attracted 314,000 and CNN generated 144,000.

The new four-hour lineup helped Fox News Channel increase total viewers by 15% and viewers between 25 and 54 by 6% compared to its performance in the third quarter of 2013, according to the Nielsen figures.

UPDATED: According to Nielsen, “The Kelly File” also surged in its key demo on Tuesday night.

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