Final Reckoning: Fox News Clobbered Competitors in 2011

Top four in cable news (clockwise from top left): FNC's Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Bret Baier and Shepard Smith (Photos: Getty Images)

Fox News Channel continued to reign supreme over its cable news competitors in 2011.

With only a few days to go ’til the new year, the most current Nielsen data available shows FNC leading its closest competitors 2-1 in “total day” viewership and nearly 3-1 in prime time for the entire year.

Specifically, Fox News averaged 1.868 million viewers nightly from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. (7-10c). The prime-time averages for the competition went like this in 2011: MSNBC, 775,000 viewers; CNN, 689,000; and HLN (formerly Headline News), 490,000.

In “total day,” FNC averaged 1.073 million viewers; CNN, 479,000; MSNBC, MSNBC, 435,000; and HLN, 329,000.

Fox News dominated because of its roster of high-rated shows and personalities. For the year, FNC programs occupied the top 13 positions in the cable news rankings. At No. 1 was “The O’Reilly Factor” with a 2011 average viewership of 2.964 million nightly, followed by “Hannity” (2.078 million), “Special Report with Bret Baier” (1.954 million), “The Fox Report with Shepard Smith” (1.742 million), “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren” (1.669 million) and “The Five,” which started just this year as a replacement for “Glenn Beck” and now averages 1.482 million viewers daily.

The closest competitor, at No. 14: MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow,” which averaged 983,000 viewers nightly in ’11. The best CNN could do during the year was 17th-ranked “Anderson Cooper 360” at 10/9c with 770,000 viewers.

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