When Was the Last Time Fox News Beat the Broadcast Network Newscasts in Primetime?

By Alex Weprin 

On election night, Fox News Channel was easily the big winner. It was the only network to grow its viewership from the 2006 midterms, and topped CNN and MSNBC combined. It also quite handily beat the election coverage on CBS, NBC and Fox, and just barely beat ABC, although FNC’s primetime average is based on three hours of coverage, compared to an hour and a half for ABC, so it isn’t a perfect comparison.

The last time FNC topped all of the broadcasters happened to be another big day for Republicans: the 2004 Republican National Convention. From 10-11 PM, FNC drew nearly 6 million viewers, compard to 4.5 million for NBC, 3.3 million for ABC and 2.6 million for CBS.

Of course, an election is much bigger than a convention, so the achievement is that much more notable. Also worth noting is that the three broadcasters had much stronger lead-ins than any of the cable news channels Tuesday, with ABC and CBS having the top two programs that night in the form of “Dancing with the Stars” and “NCIS: Los Angeles,” respectively.

During the 2008 presidential election, CNN topped NBC, CBS and Fox in the ratings, although ABC remained the top network. FNC was able to top CBS that night.