When Barack Obama won the presidency last November, he didn't realize he had a running mate. No, not Joe Biden: Fox News. The network's ratings have gone nowhere but up since Obama took office in January. The latest quarterly Nielsen ratings, released Wednesday, Fox News had a bigger audience than CNN and MSNBC combined, not only in total viewers but in the 25-to-54 age demographic that news executives aim for. In prime time, Fox News had 2.25 million viewers; the other two, 1.73 million. In the demo, Fox News had 583,000; the others, 558,000.
Even more indicative of the Fox News surge than the gross numbers audience numbers are the trends. Not surprisingly, CNN and MSNBC both a substantial number of viewers who came aboard for last year's election: CNN's prime-time audience wasdown 30 percent from the year-ago numbers, MSNBC's 10 percent. But Fox News was actually up 2 percent. The trend was the same across all hours and demographics.
Fox News also had the top-rated 13 shows in cable news -- including, at No. 3, with 2.8 million viewers, Glenn Beck. That's a remarkable number for a show that doesn't even air in primetime, and spells doom for the advertising boycott mounted by Beck's enemies. However many advertisers have left (the boycotters say several dozen, Fox News says just a fraction of that), they aren't going to stay away long in the face of those kinds of ratings.
The people who might be worrying a bit more about advertising are MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. Olbermann's audience was down 10 percent from last year (and 21 percent in the demographic). Maddow's decline is downright alarming. Her show went on the air in September 2008. A year later, she's lost 40 percent of her audience and a whopping 50 percent in the demographic.