Tuned In

Ratings: A Stimulus for Fox News

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During the election, with CNN and MSNBC surging on politics-news coverage (following a slump by Fox News over the preceding couple years), TV observers like Tuned In wondered how Fox News would do in a new Presidential era. The answer, for February anyway, is: pretty well. For the month (as defined by Nielsen) Fox was up 28%, CNN off by 30% and MSNBC up 23%.

The month was the mirror image of last February, when—buoyed by several debates in the hard-fought Democratic primary—CNN beat Fox in the ratings for the first time in years. (CNN traditionally gains big during high-profile news events, and drops off when they finish.) With those taken out of the mix a year later, CNN dropped like a rock—a pattern likely to repeat throughout this year in comparison to 2008.

That explains CNN’s loss; as for Fox’s gain, the channel seems to be showing good results fromdoubling down on its old programming style, while introducing some new, but not too new, blood. Glenn Beck, a new face to Fox but an old cable-news figure who fits in well with its conservative opinionators, doubled his timeslot’s ratings. (Likewise, on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow has more than doubled ratings in her hour.) Meanwhile, the old powerhouses of The O’Reilly Factor and Hannity-and-Oh-Screw-It-It’s-Just-Hannity-Now pulled stronger ratings over the year. 

As for CNN, it must be wishing we could hold an election every year.