Fox News Rides Red Tide

There were few surprises in store on Election Day, as the results at the polls and in the prime-time ratings race shook out in a predictable fashion.

As was widely anticipated, the Republican Party seized control of the House of Representatives and took a major bite out of the Democratic-controlled Senate. As the GOP surfed a wave of voter discontent to gain as many as 60 House seats and at least five Senate seats, Fox News Channel rode roughshod over the cable news landscape.

Per Nielsen fast nationals, FNC on Tuesday averaged 6.96 million viewers in prime time, of which 35 percent (2.43 million) were members of the core news demo. CNN finished a distant second in the 8 p.m.-11 p.m. time slot, averaging 2.42 million viewers; 43 percent (1.03 million) of which were ensconced in the 25-54 demo.

Pulling up the rear was MSNBC with 1.95 million viewers and 669,000 adults 25-54.

Many results weren’t reported until the wee small hours of Wednesday morning, but the ratings remained proportionate. From 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., FNC averaged 6.08 million viewers/2.18 million adults 25-54, while CNN drew 2.08 million/917,000 25-54s. MSNBC closed out the five-hour block with 1.7 million total viewers and 638,000 representatives of the demo.

Along with winning the night in rather spectacular fashion—although the final numbers won’t be available until Thursday morning, early results suggest FNC beat the broadcast networks in prime as well—the news channel also showed significant growth versus the 2006 midterm elections. Fox News more than doubled its prime time deliveries for Nov. 7, 2006, when it averaged 3.06 million viewers and 1.25 million adults 25-54. CNN fell 18 percent from 2.97 million viewers four years ago, while losing 23 percent of its demo.

MSNBC, meanwhile, showed almost no change whatsoever, dropping just 4,000 viewers (0.2 percent) versus its average in the 2006 midterms. That said, MSNBC did lose 25 percent of its 25-54 delivery; four years ago, the network averaged 893,000 members of the demo on Election Night.