GOP Debate Fireworks Ignite Fox News Channel’s August Ratings

A contentious, headline-grabbing GOP debate catapulted Fox News Channel to No. 1 among all basic cable networks’ ratings. It’s the second time this year FNC has topped the monthly ratings rankers in total audience. The network clocked a primetime average of 2.43 million viewers, besting Disney Channel’s 2M, TNT’s 1.93M and USA’s 1.73M, at the top of the total-viewer list.

A whopping 25.1 million viewers tuned in to see real estate mogul/reality star-turned-White House hopeful Donald Trump in his first political debate on August 6 – the biggest crowd in FNC history and the biggest nonsports crowd ever on any basic cable network. The debate was followed, among cable programs in August, by FNC’s special post-debate telecast of The Kelly File at 11:07 PM that night, which logged 11.1 million viewers. At 5 PM that day, FNC’s “kids table” debate clocked an average of 6.4 million viewers, trailing The O’Reilly Factor, which had logged 6.7 million viewers leading into the main debate. (That same night, Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show finale nabbed 5.33 million viewers, which made it the No. 32 most-watched cable program for August.)

The O’Reilly Factor finished the month on top of the cable-news show heap among total viewers (3.02M) and in the news demo (541K). (If you factor in The Kelly File’s special out-of-time-period post-debate telecast, Megyn Kelly (566K) edges Bill O’Reilly out in the news demo, while he continues to handily win in overall audience.)

Both OReilly and Kelly enjoyed their second-best numbers since FNC unveiled its new primetime schedule in October 2013, and Sean Hannity’s August was his biggest month in both metrics, including a visit from GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. Overall, the debate catapulted FNC to its best monthly stats since November 2012 – a 65% spike compared to last August.


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