Fox News Channel is finishing 2016 strong with the highest rating in all of cable for the first time in its history.
The network’s viewership surpassed not only all of its fellow cable news channels, but also every other basic cable network in the process including ESPN and TBS.
“As we close out our 20th year, FOX News continues to redefine television news and break ratings records, proving it is indeed the most watched and most trusted television news source in the country,” co-presidents Jack Abernethy and Bill Shine said in the joint statement.
Trailing only broadcast stations NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox, FNC ranks fifth in all of television.
The “fair and balanced” network averaged 2.4 million viewers in prime time and 1.4 million viewers in total day, a 36 percent increase compared to 2015, according to Nielson research.
The O’Reilly Factor finished as the number one watched show (for the 15th consecutive year), followed by The Kelly File and Hannity.
The cable news juggernaut is now the most-watched basic cable network among both primetime and total day viewers for the first time since the channel launched back in 1996, capturing seven of the top 10 programs in the younger 18–49 demographic.
Intrigue surrounding the presidential election and Donald Trump’s historic victory was helpful for all cable news networks. CNN and MSNBC both grew Fox News their viewership. Yet, booming ratings for FNC come amid a big shakeup at the network.
In July, former Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes was forced to resign after being accused of sexually harassing women at the network. Former host Gretchen Carlson was the first to come forward with harassment allegations, followed by Megyn Kelly and Andrea Tantaros giving elaborate explanations of their encounters with Ailes.
After defending Ailes against the allegations, Greta Van Susteren, one of the top anchors on Fox News for the past decade, reportedly attempted to renegotiate her contract. She and the network parted ways days later.
Brit Hume temporarily replaced her 7 p.m. slot and ratings went up. Former MSNBC and CNN host Tucker Carlson was named permanent host of the time slot after the election and is garnering some of the highest ratings on the network, oftentimes finishing in the top three programs overall in the cable news race.
Megyn Kelly attributes the network’s success to her “fantastic” journalism, claiming viewers rewarded the network because it treated Trump fairly.
“In a way it was a gift because I never needed access and I could just cover him fairly without having to worry about any blow-back,” she explained Monday. “And our viewers rewarded us. You know our ratings stayed high all year. I think people still respond to fair journalism.”
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