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Fox News Channel posts top cable ratings in third quarter

Fox News Channel posts top cable ratings in third quarter
Bill O'Reilly appears on the Fox News Channel show "The O'Reilly Factor." (Jeff Christensen / Associated Press)

Fox News Channel topped prime-time cable ratings for the first time since October 1996.

According to Nielsen, the network averaged 1.7 million viewers a night from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. in the third quarter, making it the No. 1 cable news channel.

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In total day ratings, Fox News Channel was third among all cable networks, surpassing ratings for ESPN and USA.

By comparison, CNN, which averaged 447,000 total day viewers, was No. 18. MSNBC, with 328,000 total viewers, was No. 26.

The summer was full of hot-button news stories, including the civil unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and U.S. involvement in Iraq and Syria. Competition from cable entertainment networks is also typically lighter in summer when high-rated hit shows are on hiatus.

The network attributes its third-quarter success to its extended prime-time lineup, which includes "Fox & Friends,""On the Record With Greta Van Susteren," "Hannity" and "The O'Reilly Factor." In October, the network will celebrate the one-year anniversary of the new lineup.

The shows, which posted year-over-year growth for the quarter, ranked No. 1 in total viewers among all basic cable and during their time slots.

Up 26% since its debut in October 2013, "The Kelly File" delivered the most growth of Fox News Channel programs.

Meanwhile, "The O'Reilly Factor" remained the most viewed program on the channel, averaging 2.7 million viewers.

For more news on the entertainment industry, follow me @saba_h

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