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Feb 28, 5:20 PM EST

Fox Business surges in ratings competition with CNBC



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NEW YORK (AP) -- Fox Business Network topped CNBC in viewership during the business day for the fifth consecutive month, an illustration of dramatic growth at an upstart network that began operation a decade ago.

FBN averaged 218,000 viewers during the hours between 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. in February, an increase of 59 percent over February 2016. CNBC, meanwhile, dropped from 212,000 to 182,000 in the same measurement, Nielsen Media Research said.

That's a startling change for a marketplace where CNBC was once considered the unquestioned leader. But CNBC has suggested those raw numbers are deceptive: the network stopped using Nielsen as a basis for advertising sales two years ago because the service did not measure viewership in offices or anyplace out of the home, and also short-changed its count of wealthier viewers that CNBC targets. Nielsen says it will begin counting out-of-home viewership starting in April.

Fox Business Network traces its surge to a decision in 2015 to load its daytime lineup with more of its most prominent hosts: Maria Bartiromo, Stuart Varney, Neil Cavuto, Trish Regan and Liz Claman - all CNBC alumni. The network also takes a broader view of business news than its competitors; during Regan's show on Tuesday, most of the talk was political, discussing President Donald Trump's upcoming speech before Congress.

"We get that link between Wall Street and Main Street but, more importantly, to K Street," said Cavuto, also the network's senior vice president and managing editor, referencing the Washington, D.C. address of many lobbyists.

Trump's election, and the recent stock market surge, have been tailor-made for Fox Business, he said.

There's some question about whether Fox Business Network's rise is at the expense of CNBC. Of the 4.5 million people who have watched at least one hour of Fox Business Network this year so far, 83 percent have also watched at least an hour of Fox News Channel, Nielsen said. Meanwhile, only 10 percent of those viewers said they watched at least an hour of CNBC.

Meanwhile, the Academy Awards broadcast drew 32.9 million viewers for ABC. While it was the smallest Oscars audience since 2008, the show was the most-watched entertainment program on television since last year's Academy Awards ceremony.

Led by the Oscars, ABC won the week with an 8.9 million viewer average. CBS averaged 6.8 million viewers, NBC had 4.3 million, Fox had 2.9 million, Univision had 2.1 million, Telemundo had 1.46 million, the CW had 1.45 million and ION Television had 1.3 million.

Fox News Channel was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.62 million viewers. HGTV had 1.59 million, History had 1.55 million, TBS had 1.54 million and USA had 1.535 million.

NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.6 million viewers. ABC's "World News Tonight" was second with 8.4 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 7 million viewers.

For the week of Feb. 20-26, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: Academy Awards, ABC, 32.94 million; "Live From the Red Carpet" (8 to 8:30 p.m.), ABC, 20.89 million; "Live From the Red Carpet" (7:30 to 8 p.m.), ABC, 15.28 million; "NCIS," CBS, 14.87 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 13.38 million; "Live From the Red Carpet" (7 to 7:30 p.m.), 11.46 million; "Bull," CBS, 10.67 million; "The Walking Dead," AMC, 10.42 million; "NCIS: New Orleans," CBS, 9.58 million; "This is Us," NBC, 9.37 million.

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ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.

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Online:

http://www.nielsen.com

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