October Cable News Ratings: Election Cycle Boosts CNN to Win in Demo, Fox News in Total Viewers

The current election may be tearing America apart at the seams, but the one thing everyone seems to be unable to do is look away. The three major cable news bastions — Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC — have seen their total day ratings skyrocket 73% from last year. And while all three have experienced this growth, CNN was in for a real October surprise: The Turner network has emerged the victor in the 25-54 demographic for the month of October for the first time in 15 years.

The 25-54 demo is the one cable news nets base their ad sales guarantees on, giving them an importance not otherwise seen on the channel guide. In that 25-54 demo, CNN pulled in 334,000 viewers for the total day, and 703,000 during primetime, for the month of October. Fox News drew 327,000 total day viewers in the demo, and 663,000 in prime.

MSNBC trailed the two with 223,000 in total day demo viewers and 438,000 in primetime, though those numbers are up from last October by an astonishing 153% and 224%. MSNBC showed the biggest percentage growth out of the main three players in the demo and in total viewers.

When you take into account total viewers, not just those in the 25-54 demo, the picture’s a little different: Fox News leads in both total day (1.55 million, to CNN’s 1.02 million) and primetime (3.09 million, to CNN’s 1.92 million). The downside for Fox News is that most of those viewers are far outside the target demographic. The median age of a Fox News viewer is 66. (The median ages for CNN and MSNBC, 59 and 64, also fall outside the target demo.)

The last time CNN beat its competitors for the month in the 25-54 demo was 15 years ago, not long after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

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