HLN Posts Biggest Month Ever, Fox News Dips Slightly in Prime Time

Fox is the only network to decline in prime time, but remains well ahead of its competitors

Last Updated: August 2, 2011 @ 4:55 PM

July ratings are in for the cable news channels and — surprise surprise — Fox News Channel is on top.

While that may not be news, this is: FNC was the only one of the four networks to lose viewers in primetime compared to the same month last year.

While Fox’s viewership was up for the full day in total viewers and the 25-54 demo, those numbers went down by 3 and 8 percent respectively in prime time.

Still, Fox remains leagues ahead of its competitors, as it has been for some time. 

Meanwhile, Headline News rode the Casey Anthony wave to a second-place finish and its best month ever in Total Day viewership among both the whole audience and the 25-54 demo. Every single show increased viewership compared with last year, while HLN increased its total viewers by 146 percent.

HLN saw the biggest improvements in mid-day. It was ranked first in cable between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the coveted 25-54 demo. In terms of primetime, every show still saw a big bump, particularly Nancy Grace and Dr. Drew Pinsky.

HLN’s surge displaced MSNBC, which has been in second for three years now. Still, no tears will be shed for Phil Griffin’s network. Prime time shows like “Hardball,” “The Rachel Maddow Show” and “The Ed Show” all saw double-digit percentage increases in viewership.

The one negative: Lawrence O’Donnell’s numbers are down at 8 p.m., the spot vacated by Keith Olbermann. While Griffin said that O’Donnell maintained Olbermann’s numbers at the Television Critics Assn. Summer Tour, O’Donnell was actually down 9 percent in total viewers and 15 percent in the demo.

With MSNBC in third, that means CNN came in last for July. CNN did post gains both in total day and in prime time with “Anderson Cooper 360” and “John King USA” both way up. However, that did not help the network pass MSNBC or overcome HLN’s big month.