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July Ratings: Food Beats News

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The headlines: July cable news ratings confirm FoxNews dominance. CNN benefits from Michael Jackson's death, and The Food Network wins the demographics.

Primetime's biggest news gainer was Fox: viewing numbers were up 43% year to year. CNN gained 39%, and MSNBC, 23%. In total day, FoxNews was up 36%, CNN gained 45%, and MSNBC, 12%. That's a turnaround for CNN, last month MSNBC narrowly edged into second place in weekday primetime. In July, CNN trounced MSNBC by considerable margins in all the important demographic categories. Still, Michael Jackson's death made it a good month for all of them.

The biggest surprise, to me, was that the The Food Network, another network I started, beat all three cable news networks in every demographic measurement, although it was second to Fox in total viewing. Food had 300,000 more 18-49 viewers than Fox, and 100,000 more 25-54s. The widest margin was in 18-34s -- Food beat the news nets 3-1 among those viewers. It was watched by 281,000 viewers, while each of the news nets drew about 90,000. (Total day was pretty much the same story, but Food only had twice as many viewers as the news networks.)

I think Food's success reflects America's current state of mind. Perhaps the nasty negativity that has characterized the past six months of cable news coverage has sent Americans searching for something more positive; something more comforting. I have long since sold out my interest in The Food Network, so I can write here without any appearance of conflict, that maybe we'd all be better off watching people cook than watching people yelling at each other.