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Fox News continues to roll, CNN recaptures (distant) second place

February 2, 2010 | 12:59 pm

In cable news, it is an axiom that CNN prospers when there is a big story. But another axiom might be that Fox News prospers whether there's a big story or not.

In January, Fox News again dominated the landscape. It was the only news channel to make gains from a year earlier. Its prime-time audience average for the month was almost 2 million viewers, a 22% increase from January 2009. Among adults 25 to 54, the key demographic for news, Fox News averaged 637,000 viewers in prime time, a 51% gain. The special election in Massachusetts didn't hurt Fox News, that's for sure.

CNN and MSNBC were both way down from January 2009, but keep in mind that President Obama was inaugurated that month, which boosted their numbers.

CNN did beat MSNBC in prime time for the first time in six month as viewers came to the channel for its coverage of the earthquake in Haiti. CNN also topped MSNBC in adults 25 to 54.

Overall, CNN averaged 842,000 viewers in prime time, down 34% from a year earlier, while MSNBC averaged 703,000 viewers, a 26% decline.

Both CNN and MSNBC were up from December but traditionally comparisons are made with the same period a year earlier, not the previous month.

-- Joe Flint

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