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Ratings: Fox News Channel No. 1 Cable Network for Third Quarter

Thanks in part to the Republican Presidential Primary Debate and the draw of Donald Trump, Fox News Channel was the most popular primetime cable network for the third quarter — a first for the channel.

FNC’s third quarter saw double-digit increases in both primetime total viewers and the key 25-54 demo over the same time last year, averaging 1,952,000 in total viewers (up 10%) and 395,000 in the key demo (up 28%), according to Nielsen’s “live plus same-day” estimates. The debate, which aired Aug. 6, brought in 24 million viewers overall. By comparison, CNN averaged 814,000 and MSNBC drew 625,000 in primetime.

Following Fox News Channel among the most-watched cable networks on a same-night basis during July, August and September were ESPN (delivering 1,707,000 total viewers), USA (1,552,000), HGTV (1,480,000) and TNT (1,418,000). USA was the most-watched among all networks in the key demos P18-49 (745,000) and P25-54 (805,000) in press prime, with a +12% and +9% lead in the demos respectively.

FNC also stayed on top in Nielsen’s “most current” metric, which is used by most cable networks. By this measure, which blends in full-week DVR playback where available, Fox News averaged 1.99 million viewers, followed by USA (1.81 million), TNT (1.80 million), Disney Channel (1.79 million) and ESPN (1.71 million).

Bill O’Reilly’s FNC staple “The O’Reilly Factor” also had a momentous third quarter, delivering its highest-rated quarter in total viewers (2,870,000) since the fourth quarter of 2012. It was up the most in primetime viewers compared to any other FNC primetime program (up 7%).

Another winner in the third quarter was OWN, as series highs for Tyler Perry soap “The Haves and the Have Nots” lifted the network to its most-watched quarter in network history (550,000 viewers in primetime) and its highest-rated to date in women 25-54 (0.39 coverage rating), moving up to 18th among all cablers. “If Loving You Is Wrong,” “Iyanla: Fix My Life” and comedy “For Better or Worse” were among other shows to contribute to the network’s strong summer.

Elsewhere, Fox Business Network’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” helped the network score its first-ever monthly ratings win over CNBC in total viewers (115,000 to 113,000 total viewers for September), according to Nielsen.

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