As Election Day nears, big numbers for news networks

Posted at 4:33 PM, Nov 01, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) -- It's been such a great party at the television news networks that only a crank would mention the morning after.

MSNBC reached its biggest weekday prime-time audience in the network's 20-year history in October. Rivals CNN and Fox News Channel had strong months, too. For about a year, the networks have devoted most of their broadcast time to the presidential race, now about to be decided.

Fox averaged 3.06 million viewers during weekday prime in October, the Nielsen company said. MSNBC had 2.03 million and CNN had 1.99 million. CNN is stronger on the weekends, and moves into second place if Saturday and Sunday are included.

Measuring the full day, it was CNN's most-watched month since 2005. It was also the first time in 15 years that CNN has beaten Fox in both the daytime and evening among the 25-to-54 demographic that much of news advertising sales are based upon.

Fox had its best weekday prime-time number since October 2012, Nielsen said. Friday's news that the FBI is looking into more of Hillary Clinton's emails so energized Fox's conservative audience that the network crushed CNN in the news demo. Recognizing an opportunity, Fox stayed in live programming all weekend to talk about the story.

Yet the sun will come up on the morning of Nov. 9, as surely as it does on the morning after a party to reveal a throbbing headaches and scattered beer bottles. News ratings are sure to tumble as the networks try to figure out something to keep their audiences interested.

The Fox broadcasting network had a strong week, riding interest in the Cubs-Indians World Series. Baseball usually tries to avoid the NFL ratings juggernaut, but with football slumping this year, Sunday's fifth game of the Series beat the Cowboys-Eagles game on NBC by nearly five million viewers head-to-head.

Fox averaged 16.2 million viewers in prime time. CBS had 7.6 million, NBC had 7.5 million, ABC had 5.1 million, Univision had 1.7 million, Telemundo had 1.68 million, the CW had 1.5 million and ION Television had 1.1 million.

ESPN was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.76 million viewers in prime-time compared to Fox News Channel's 2.75 million. AMC had 1.45 million, TBS had 1.29 million and MSNBC had 1.286 million.

Once again, the evening news competition was about as close as it can get. ABC's "World News Tonight" averaged 8.19 million viewers last week, NBC's "Nightly News" had 8.15 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.8 million.

For the week of Oct. 24-30, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: World Series Game 5: Cleveland at Chicago, Fox, 23.64 million; World Series Game 3: Cleveland at Chicago, Fox, 19.38 million; World Series Game 1: Chicago at Cleveland, Fox, 19.37 million; NFL Football: Philadelphia at Dallas, NBC, 18.02 million; World Series Game 2: Chicago at Cleveland, Fox, 17.39; "World Series Game 5 Pre-Game," Fox, 17.32 million; World Series Game 4: Cleveland at Chicago, Fox, 16.71 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 14.31 million; "The OT," Fox, 14.084 million; "NCIS," CBS, 14.077 million.


ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.