http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tm...y/20040928/va_tv_ne/fox_news_beats_all_rivals Fox News beats all rivals Tue Sep 28, 6:23 PM ET Television - Variety Pamela McClintock, STAFF NEW YORK -- For the first time in its history, Fox News Channel beat the combined competition in primetime during the third quarter of 2004, with major headlines of the summer including the national political conventions and a brutal string of hurricanes. According to Nielsen Media Research, Fox News averaged 1.8 million viewers, while CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and Headline News averaged a combined total of 1.7 million. The quarter ended Sunday. CNN came in a distant second, averaging 882,000 viewers, while MSNBC drew 421,000. Headline News averaged 226,000 in primetime, and CNBC attracted a paltry 133,000. Most of the cable news nets were up significantly vs. Q3 2003 thanks to a busy news cycle. The one exception was CNBC, which was down 13%. Buoyed by the Olympics and convention coverage, MSNBC saw the most growth in its primetime aud, up a hefty 55%. Fox News came in second in terms of growth, up 39%. CNN was up 19% and Headline News 17%. In the key news demo, Fox News averaged 405,000 viewers in 25-54, a 44% improvement on the same period in 2003. CNN averaged 195,000 viewers in the demo, up 17%. At 115,000, MSNBC was up 34%. Headline News averaged 75,000 viewers in the demo, up only 6% from the same frame last year. CNBC improved its performance in the demo, averaging 53,000 viewers, a 36% jump. Fox News' third-quarter performance further solidified its dominance in the field of cable news, as well as its increasing strength against even the broadcast nets. During the Republican National Convention in late August, Fox News won out over ABC News, CBS News and NBC News, also a first for a cable news net. Earlier this week, Bill O'Reilly's interview with President Bush (news - web sites) on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" drew a whopping 4.6 million viewers. Fox News had nine of the 10 top programs during the third quarter, with O'Reilly remaining at No. 1, averaging 2.4 million viewers. The one exception was CNN's "Larry King Live," which was No. 6, averaging 1.3 million viewers.