News networks see growth

Only CBS shrinks in total viewers

Second-quarter Nielsen numbers include something for all the cable news nets and broadcast network news divisions to crow about — except CBS.

As overall leaders, NBC and Fox have reason to brag the loudest, but ABC, CNN and MSNBC all spun some glory as well, with the last two nets seeing strong second-quarter finishes due largely to political coverage/commentary by Anderson Cooper (CNN) and Keith Olbermann (MSNBC).

The Peacock’s “Nightly News With Brian Williams” scored highest in both total viewers and the crucial adult 25-54 demo — 7.98 million and 2.44 million, respectively. The program saw its biggest gain among total viewers, which increased by 433,000 over the year-earlier quarter.

Fox News Channel, which had surrendered its title as top dog in the cable primetime 25-54 demo to CNN in first-quarter 2008, reclaimed its lead, as FNC posted an average 343,000 viewers in that category for the second quarter. CNN placed second with 297,000, and MSNBC had 267,000.

And Fox maintained its lead — for 78 consecutive months now — in total primetime cable viewers with 1.585 million. CNN was second with 961,000, and MSNBC posted 685,000.

Citing other Nielsen numbers, Fox ranked sixth in primetime total viewers among 30 cable channels. CNN ranked 21st, MSNBC 27th.

ABC’s “World News With Charles Gibson” placed a relatively close second behind “Nightly News,” pulling 7.67 million total viewers and 2.33 million in the 25-54 demo. Alphabet said both figures represented significant gains over the Eye’s “Evening News With Katie Couric.”

The downside: In second quarter 2007, the Alphabet’s newscast placed first — 7.99 million total viewers vs. NBC’s 7.535 million.

CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” appearing to have benefited strongly from election primary nights, placed first in the 25-54 demo for the 10 p.m. hour, with an average 342,000 viewers — an 18% jump over its year-earlier number.

MSNBC’s flagship primetime show, “Countdown With Keith Olbermann,” posted a 65% increase in the 25-54 demo over its numbers for second quarter 2007 — 398,000 vs. 241,000, respectively. “Countdown” placed second in cable’s 8 p.m. 25-54 category, ahead of CNN’s “Election Center” but behind the timeslot leader, Fox’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”

CNN and MSNBC enjoyed cable news’ highest year-to-year rates of growth. In the 25-54 demo, CNN rose 22% to a viewer average of 297,000 from 243,000. MSNBC was up 45% to 267,000 from 184,000. Fox was down 2% in that category (343,000 vs. 350,000 a year earlier) but posted an 8% increase in its total viewers over second quarter ’07.

CBS’ “Evening News With Katie Couric” continued its downward slide, dropping 9% to just slightly under 6 million total viewers for the latest quarter from 6.124 million a year earlier. In the 25-54 demo, the show fell to 1.7 million from 1.94 million.

However, “Evening News” did win an Edward R. Murrow Award for newscast from the Radio and Television News Directors Assn. on Tuesday.

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