Did Dish Network give CNN a helping hand this month? CNN posted a hefty 48% total viewer gain (602,000 viewers) in primetime for the month of January compared with January 2014, and a 72% primetime news demo gain (225,000). Nielsen’s January ratings period (December 29-January 25) will be remembered in cable news circles as the month in which Fox News Channel was blacked out of Dish customers’ homes for nearly three weeks (the blackout started before the ratings period, on December 20, and ended January 15).
Maybe not coincidentally, FNC slid 13% in primetime total viewers compared with last year, though that left it with a still-commanding 1.48 million viewers. FNC carved out a 3% gain in primetime news demo (272,000) to maintain its lead there too – of 47,00o viewers.
In total day, CNN spiked 63% in overall audience (516,000) and 71% in the news demo (168,000) compared with same time last year. Here too, CNN continued to trail FNC, which clocked an 11% drop in total-day crowd (972,000) and a 13% slip in the news demo (191,000).
In fairness, CNN maybe had nowhere to go but up, having logged its third lowest-rated month ever in January 2014.
Dish’s jockeying with FNC appears to have done MSNBC no good during the ratings period – not too surprising, given their respective target audiences. MSNBC fell 23% in primetime overall audience (518,000 viewers) and 39% in the news demo (141,000). In total day, MSNBC dropped 20% in overall audience (323,000) and 37% in the news demo (93,000).
Dish Network’s 14 million subscribers were left without access to Fox News Channel or Fox Business Channel after those networks’ parent company could not reach agreement with the satellite TV provider on a new distribution deal.
Finger-pointing between 21st Century Fox and Dish broke out in the middle of the night on December 20, as carriage talks between the two failed to produce a deal by midnight. At the time, Dish suggested Fox was trying to force it to buy a car along with a house, Fox shot back that it was offering Dish “a mansion” but Dish only “wanted to pay for a double lot.” Finally, in mid-January, FNC again became available after the two companies announced they had reached a multi-year agreement for carriage of FNC and FBN for customers with qualifying programming packages.