While Fox News continues to dominate the news market in ratings (while losing out to Jon Stewart), they were also the only cable news network to actually see their numbers decline in 2011:
Yet Fox was alone among the cable news networks in losing viewers — down 8 percent in prime time and 5 percent for the full day, Nielsen said. The 2010 midterm election year was particularly engaging for Republicans, who make up a big part of Fox's audience.
CNN was up 17 percent in prime-time viewership with a revamped lineup that includes a double dose of Anderson Cooper and Piers Morgan replacing Larry King. CNN is third behind Fox and MSNBC in prime time but second for the day as a whole.
CNN's rivals acknowledge its gains but are quick to point out that last year represented CNN's worst year ever in the ratings.
MSNBC can take pride in surviving the exit of its most popular prime time personality, Keith Olbermann, who defected to Current. The network is up 2 percent over last year in its prime-time average, Nielsen said.
An 8% loss for prime time translates to a lot of money for the big advertising time slots. It would be interesting to see a deeper analysis of what could be the cause here. Fox has maintained the same prime time line-up for quiet awhile now, so perhaps people are just getting tired of hearing the same old Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity. On the other hand, perhaps people are just finally getting tired of being spoon fed a bunch of b.s.?
There was one other loss worth mentioning here. MSNBC did see their 8:00 time slot drop 11% after the departure of Keith Olbermann. They still managed to fair well though with Rachel Maddow continuing her rise and the 10:00 hour no longer being a rerun of Countdown.
All this makes you wonder what we might see in 2012. I'm sure the ratings overall will increase with the election upon us, but will CNN and MSNBC see a bigger increase than FOX? We'll find out this time next year.