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In 2Q Ratings, Fox News Extends Winning Streak As MSNBC Returns To Second Place Over CNN

MSNBC returned to its perch in second place behind Fox News for the second quarter of 2011, beating CNN among the key group of viewers 25-54 in prime time. MSNBC averaged 273,000 viewers 25-54 in prime, compared to CNN’s 234,000. Fox News easily held on to its ranking as the number one network in cable news in the period, with 413,000 viewers 25-54 in prime. Fox’s win was made easy by having all of the top five cable news programs (viewers 25-54): O’Reilly Factor (636,000 viewers), Hannity (501,000), Glenn Beck (413,000), On the Record (398,000) and the O’Reilly repeat at 11 p.m. (384,000).

Overall, Fox News has had 38 consecutive quarterly wins in terms of total viewers, and was strong enough to rank fourth among all cable channels. MSNBC, by comparison, ranked 26th and CNN placed 28th.

While Fox won every hour of primetime, the matchups between CNN and MSNBC were split, with Lawrence O’Donnell winning at 8 p.m. over In the Arena, (251,000 viewers 25-54 vs. 168,000). Despite CNN’s loss, Arena, the Eliot Spitzer-led show has been a boost compared to the network’s performance a year ago, up 26 percent in the demo. MSNBC has beaten CNN in the 8 o’clock hour (among viewers 25-54) for 19 consecutive quarters, most of those while Keith Olbermann held the timeslot.

At 9 p.m., MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow finished ahead of CNN’s Piers Morgan, 315,000 viewers compared to Morgan’s 201,000. Maddow’s performance in the quarter represents the show’s best ratings in the demo since 1Q 2009. Morgan, meanwhile, dropped from the show’s debut in the first quarter, but remains strong compared to the second quarter of 2010, when Larry King occupied the timeslot.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper won at 10 p.m. over MSNBC’s Ed Schultz (304,000 viewers 25-54 compared to 260,000). The viewership trends at 10 p.m. are interesting, with Cooper up 43 percent in the demo compared to 2010. MSNBC increased 27 percent in the same period, while Fox dropped 17 percent.

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