The prison rape continues

FOX News Channel (FNC) garnered more than 50% of the cable news audience in primetime and total day during 2Q’04, according to Nielsen Media Research. In contrast, CNN and MSNBC both attracted less than a third of the same market share in 2Q ’04. In primetime, FNC commanded 55% of the cable news market share, averaging 1.4 million viewers, while CNN claimed just 32% of that audience with 828,000 viewers. During Rick Kaplan’s first full quarter as president, MSNBC’s primetime line-up attracted a paltry 13% of the cable news audience with 321,000 viewers (down 41% in viewership year to year).

FNC’s Total Day average of 820,000 viewers made up 54% of the cable news pie, nearly doubling CNN’s 31% (468,000 viewers) and more than tripling MSNBC’s 15% share (226,000 viewers). In the key 25-54 demo, both CNN and MSNBC lost more than half their 25-54 audience in these day parts over the same period last year. FNC averaged 457,000 persons in primetime and 291,000 persons in total day, exceeding CNN and MSNBC’s combined totals of 344,000 persons in prime and 231,000 persons in the total day time periods.

In addition, FNC sustained its programming dominance capturing nine out of the top ten shows in cable news, as CNN’s heavily promoted primetime lineup continued to flounder. CNN’s only show in the top ten, Larry King Live, remained stagnant at number four with 1,291,000 viewers, trailing FNC’s The O’Reilly Factor (2,051,000 viewers), Hannity & Colmes (1,492,000 viewers) and The FOX Report with Shepard Smith (1,339,000 viewers) respectively. Since launching in September 2003, Paula Zahn Now and Anderson Cooper 360 have yet to rank within the top ten cable news programs — Zahn currently ranks at 16th while Cooper is languishing at number 21.

Obviously there’s no market for right-wing commentary. Six months ago the St. Paul Pioneer Press turned down my column – for the second time in five years – despite the fact that I’m one of the only writers in their history to have been nationally syndicated. In thematically related news, the Pioneer Press’s readership just dropped below 200,000 for the first time in a long, long time and a (ahem) restructuring was announced last week.

Now, I understand that newspaper editors have probably studied less economics than the average NBA draftee, but you wouldn’t think it would take a rocket scientist to understand that if your dominant competitor does X, then you have to do Y if you want to compete. Offering more of X simply means that you’ll eventually be run out of business or acquired. Rupert Murdoch, on the other hand, saw the huge market left unaddressed by the ABCNNBCBS cabal and is cleaning up with a monopoly position in the rightward 50 percent of the political spectrum while he leaves all the others to fight it out for the leftward half. Surprise, surprise, guess who’s winning?

I wonder how Eric Alterman explains this. I suppose he thinks the number of stupid people is growing every day. No doubt it’s George Bush’s fault.

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