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Fox News Has Its Best Year Ever, CNN Doesn’t

sg_foxcnnFox News, which launched in 1996, will finish 2009 with the network’s best ratings in its 13-year history, averaging 2.2 million total viewers in prime time.

Yesterday, CNN and MSNBC put out ratings info for 2009 with MSNBC touting its first prime time demo defeat of CNN and CNN touting its best ratings year of the last five, excluding the 2008 election year.

Fox’s numbers are up 10-percent over 2008; 1.2 million total day, up 16 percent; and 1 million in mornings, up 14 percent. The network received its biggest boost from Glenn Beck, who nearly doubled viewership in his early evening time period. Glenn Beck is up 96% in total viewers (averaging 2.3 million). He’s also up 148% in the A24-54 demo, averaging 612,000 viewers. HLN also saw significant percentage gains, although its total audience remains tiny compared to Fox’s. CNN’s audience, however, continued to drop and was eclipsed by MSNBC in the 18-49 demographic. In particular, CNN’s audience during the Anderson Cooper time period diminished 26 percent among total viewers.

Bill O’Reilly, who now makes it 10 years as the top cable news program, was up 13% in total viewers with 3.3 million tuning in and 27% in the demo (801,000). In 2009, O’Reilly often outdrew programs on broadcast networks — just this week, The Factor had a larger audience than ABC’s Better Off Ted. Ted drew 3.183 million viewers, while O’Reilly drew 3.299 million at 8pm ET.

This marks the first time CNN has trailed any competitor other than Fox over a full year. CNN’s Larry King Live was down 12% among total viewers and Anderson Cooper 360 is down 26%. For the fourth quarter, CNN will finish fourth among cable news channels, landing behind HLN (formerly Headline News) – CNN’s sister network – which has seen ratings improve 9% this year in prime time.

Outside of prime time, CNN is still the second-most watched cable news net, beating out MSNBC.

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