By Joe Flint, Los Angeles Times –
LOS ANGELES — Fox News always dominates in its competition against CNN and MSNBC, but last week the cable channel managed the unusual feat of beating all other cable networks in viewers, including juggernauts ESPN, USA and TBS.
In prime time, Fox News averaged almost 3.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen. That was almost a million more than ESPN averaged. Fox News also won the total day crown with an average of 1.66 million viewers, nipping kids channel Nickelodeon, which averaged 1.63 million viewers.
Fox News coverage of the Oct. 16 presidential debate was second only to ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” game between the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers in terms of most-watched programs. Overall, Fox News had six of the top 20 cable shows for the week of Oct. 15 through Oct. 21.
This is not the first time Fox News has finished first among all networks, but it doesn’t happen too often. It is one more reason for Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes to celebrate. Last week, Ailes signed a new four-year contract to stay with Fox News.
The strong ratings performance by Fox News will give its distribution department more leverage as it seeks new deals with major cable and satellite operators. Last August, Fox News struck a new long-term pact with Time Warner Cable that saw the subscription fee for the channel rise from about 89 cents per-subscriber, per-month to north of $1 per-subscriber.