Since its beginning Fox News has stunned the industry with its ratings. In the demographic group of adults between the ages of 25 to 54 who watch cable news (according to Nielsen Media Research), Fox's viewership has increased by a full 430 percent in the past three years, while CNN's has declined by 28 percent. In its fifth year of existence, Fox is making a profit and is currently worth an estimated $3 billion. It has three of the top five cable-news programs in prime time. In 65 million household where Fox News and CNN compete in prime time, Fox is winning by 30 percent.
In recent weeks, Fox News finally surpassed CNN in ratings for the first time since the September 11th terrorist attacks. Fox averaged 1.04 million households in primetime compared to CNN's 931,000, even though CNN is available in 11 million more homes than Fox News. During this time period CNN did dominate in total day, averaging 708,000 households compared to Fox News' 617,000 households.
In the past, the boastfulness of Fox about its ratings has caused some negative publicity for them. In November of 2000, Fox ran advertisements about their election night coverage stating, "#1 Network for Political Coverage","6.8 MILLION Viewers Watched FOX News Channel's Election Night Coverage." This number was partly accurate; 6.8 million people did watch the channel's coverage on television, according to Nielsen Media Research figures. The problem was that 4.4 million watched it on the broadcast network Fox, a unit of the News Corporation.
Nielsen received complaints from several of Fox's cable news competitors and they themselves were angry. Fox did not get permission to use the research firm's statistics in the ad, and that is required. Fox didn't mind the situation, it occurred in the middle of sweeps and that made them the network that was most talked about that week.