Via Bloomberg Businessweek comes a graph documenting the astounding 50-quarter ratings dominance of Fox News, which in the first quarter of 2002 overtook CNN and has spent the years since pulling away from its rivals. Big-time, too: In the early days of its run, Fox News was just a hair ahead of CNN; in the second quarter of 2002, for example, it averaged 1,089,000 primetime viewers, to CNN’s 890,000. By the fourth quarter of 2008 — which featured the Obama-McCain presidential election — Fox News had 2.6 million to CNN’s 1.6 million. Even more important is that those 1.6 million viewers for CNN marked the network’s best quarter of that year, and it barely edged out Fox News’s worst quarter that year (in the second quarter of 2008, Fox News averaged 1.58 million primetime viewers). That was the last time that any of the numbers crossed. Nowadays even the greatest quarters for non-Fox News cable channels don’t come close to outperforming the worst quarters for Fox News.
And Fox News had better be beating the daylights out of CNN, MSNBC and HLN, given the audience trends depicted in this graph from a recent Pew study: