The Most Valuable Name In News: MSNBC, Not Fox

Fox News Channel may have the biggest average audience, as well as gross revenues of the cable news networks, but when it comes to a key Madison Avenue metric -- CPMs -- MSNBC is the most valued.

A MediaPost analysis of data released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center analyzing the 2020 audience size and economics of the major cable news networks, reveals that MSNBC generates an average of $423 per prime-time household reached annually, which is about 10% more valuable than the second most valued cable news network, Fox News' $386 per prime-time household reached.

The analysis isn't exactly apples-to-apples, because it calculates gross annual advertising revenues divided by average prime-time audience, not total day, but the Pew study did not provide average total day audience estimates, and prime-time is known to generate the lion's share of each network's advertising revenues.

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So while Fox News has a significantly higher annual audience, as well as total revenues and profits, the ad industry actually values MSNBC more.

Interestingly, while Fox News also has the greatest profit margin (62.1%) when total revenues, including licensing fees are added in, MSNBC isn't far behind (54.7%), followed by CNN (42.9%). Relative newcomer, Newsmax, still is unprofitable, according to the Pew analysis, generating a loss of $1.5 million on gross revenue of $26.4 million.

2 comments about "The Most Valuable Name In News: MSNBC, Not Fox".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 14, 2021 at 12:05 p.m.

    Joe, you really need total day ratings---or viewer projections---which are usually available via various posts on the web to attempt this kind of analysis as non-prime may represent 40-45% of the ad dollars and a larger percentage of the ad GRPs due to higher ad loads. You also need to know how many commercials and what lengths constitute a typical day for each channel. Traditionally, CNN has been the leader in CPMs---but I don't have any current info on that subject that I can share.

  2. Joe Mandese from MediaPost, July 14, 2021 at 6:56 p.m.

    @Ed Papazian: I really need a lot of things, but am used to working with what I get, as imperfect as it may be.

    I was working with the Pew analysis and didn't want to mix other sources -- and baselines -- I pointed out the lack of total day, but noted that prime-time is indicative because it is the lion's share of their ad spending.

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