Cable war becomes massacre: Fox dominates as CNN suffers huge decline

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Brendan Bordelon Contributor
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The cable news ratings are out for January 2014, and boy, do things look shaky for CNN.

Numbers compiled by Nielsen Media Research show that Fox News is towering over the competition. Its total viewership surpassed CNN and MSNBC combined, with the gap increasing even further during prime time. Fox even surpassed its own record, coming up 6 percent in prime time viewers from this time last year. It’s great news for the cable network, which saw a slight decline in 2013 but now appears poised to regain that ground and more.

The big story, however, is CNN’s precipitous drop in viewership. While MSNBC slowly bled viewers between last January and now, CNN hemorrhaged an astonishing 29 percent of its total viewers. And its prime time numbers are utterly abysmal, with 41 percent of its audience jumping ship in the space of just 12 months.

Put in context, MSNBC prime time viewers outnumbered those watching CNN by 2-to-1, while Fox more than doubled MSNBC’s own viewership. That means four people are watching Bret Baier and Bill O’Reilly for every one watching Anderson Cooper or Piers Morgan.

The ratings bloodbath follows Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes’ comments on his cable rivals earlier this month. CNN and MSNBC, he claimed at the time, had “thrown in the towel” and were now “out of the news business.” Though that may not be technically true, the two networks’ dismal showing over the past year may soon lend Ailes’ remarks a prophetic tone.

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