Variety’s Michael Learmonth…
Cable news audiences grew broadly in January, driven by ratings gains for opinionated hosts helped by the Democratic takeover of Congress and a presidential field stocked with celebrities.
The highest-rated hour in cable news was the president’s State of the Union address, which drew 4.6 million total viewers to cable; 45 million watched one of the broadcast nets.
MSNBC had the biggest growth among cable news nets in January, up 75% in primetime and justification for its new tagline “the fastest-growing news channel.”
CNN also saw gains, but it’s increasingly a two-horse race for second to Fox News Channel as MSNBC posted its smallest gap with CNN in total viewers .
FNC marked its fifth year in first place in January, with total-viewer numbers essentially flat from the previous year. The network’s primetime lineup is up 9% over last year, averaging more than 1.9 million total viewers vs. 920,000 for CNN and 618,000 for MSNBC.