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Fox News rules GOP primary roost

Net's Florida coverage tops competish combined

As the primary season heats up, Fox News Channel continues to rule the ratings roost.

On Tuesday, the net’s special 8-10 p.m. coverage of the Florida primary averaged 2.74 million viewers, according to Nielsen, more than the combined deliveries of CNN (1.21 million) and MSNBC (1.06 million). FNC also held a sizable lead in the key news demo of adults 25-54, drawing 684,000 to 443,000 for CNN and 266,000 for MSNBC.

Perhaps due to the lopsided nature of the Florida primary — Mitt Romney prevailed by a landslide — viewership on Tuesday was a bit below the South Carolina primary of Jan. 21 (2.75 million), but it’s clear that viewers are becoming more engaged in the race for the Republican presidential nominee. FNC was the No. 3 cable network on the night in total viewers, close behind TBS and USA.

Fox News Channel is also coming off an easy victory over CNN and MSNBC for January. In primetime last month, FNC averaged 1.94 million viewers, meaning Fox News has been the cable news ratings leader for 10 years (120 straight months), having first surpassed CNN in early 2002.

Its average aud back in 2002 was actually more than either CNN (841,000) or MSNBC (801,000) drew last month.

“The O’Reilly Factor” remains the flagship program for Fox News Channel, as it has for the network’s entire decade of ratings leadership. On Monday of this week it achieved another milestone when it outdrew NBC’s 10 p.m. newsmag “Rock Center” (3.42 million vs. 3.29 million) to become primetime’s most-watched news program.

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