The FOX News Channel (FNC) beat the three broadcast networks in ratings during the Republican National Convention.
On Sept. 2, 7.3 million people tuned in to FNC to watch President George W. Bush deliver his acceptance speech from the Republican Convention. That compares to 5.9 million watching NBC, 5.1 million viewing ABC, 5 million tuning in to CBS and 2.7 million and 1.7 million watching CNN and MSNBC, respectively. FNC drew more viewers than the networks on the previous two evenings of coverage as well.
The FNC feat marks the first time in broadcast history that a cable news network has surpassed the major networks in total viewers watching a political convention.
Industry pundits and observers are uncertain what to make of the FNC ratings victory. Some argue that it’s understandable that FOX would outdraw viewers interested in the Republican National Convention because of its conservative bent. FNC on-air talent and management bristle at that suggestion, saying the network maintains its objectivity and has built viewer interest and loyalty with objective reporting and a more dynamic look.
On the surface, the networks’ slide is surprising because they reach about 110 million homes while FNC is available in 85 million U.S. TV households. But, the networks’ declining viewership could be seen as a consequence of their decision to scale back coverage of the conventions when compared to previous efforts.