The numbers are in — as are the winners and losers — in the battle for cable news supremacy.
Here are some highlights:
* Fox News had the highest-rated year in the network’s 13-year history
* MSNBC had some key victories, including its first full-year win over CNN in prime-time “demo”
* CNN had a brutal year
Fox News was number one for the eighth year in a row – not a surprise. But, driven by viewers critical of the Obama Administration’s first year in office, FNC saw its biggest ratings ever, topping MSNBC, CNN and everyone else in average total viewers (1.2 million), the coveted 24-54-year-old demographic (323,000); prime-time (2.2 million total, 551,000 in the “Demo); even morning (1 million total, 340,000 in the “demo”) according to Nielsen data.
All of Fox’s shows were up double digits, ratingswise. Glenn Beck’s show scored a 96 percent increase in average total viewers (to 2.3 million). Overall, FNC jumped 16 percent year-over-year.
MSNBC beat CNN for the first time in the primetime “demo” with an average of 284,000 viewers; CNN averaged 269,000. (CNN, though, managed to hold off MSNBC in total viewers in prime-time, averaging 917,000 to MSNBC’s 822,000.)
What stings for CNN is that it is on pace to finish in fourth place in the prime-time “demo” for the fourth quarter – straggling behind Fox, MSNBC and even HLN (formerly Headline News), its sister network.
Anderson Cooper – CNN’s once-impenetrable star – saw his ratings plummet 35 percent in the “demo” and 26 percent overall. Larry King and Campbell Brown didn’t fare much better.
CNN’s flailing in 2009 was, perhaps, epitomized best this Jon Stewart rant on the “Daily Show.”
Stewart, who has become something of a cable news ombudsman, delivered an 11-minute, 33-second excoriation of the network for, among other things, its fact-checking of “Saturday Night Live”:
The clip also produced the Media Quote of the Year, courtesy of “Daily Show” correspondent John Oliver:
“Perhaps if the facts of a story were scribbled inside the sexual organs of goats, CNN may have more of an interest in checking them.”