Today Fox News Channel celebrates 11 years on the air. The launch on October 7, 1996 was to 17 million cable subscribers and joined two existing channels: CNN, the originator, and MSNBC, which went on the air a few months before FNC on July 15, 1996.
FNC now has about 85 million subscribers and maintains its hold as the #1 cable news channel; a position it’s held since early 2002. The channel’s formula for success has been discussed for at least that long.
That success can be attributed to primetime hosts including Bill O’Reilly, Shepard Smith, Greta Van Susteren, Sean Hannity & Alan Colmes. Most often it is given the network’s creator, Roger Ailes. As the network celebrated 10 years on the air last October, USA Today‘s Peter Johnson wrote FNC is a success, “because it has consistently given equal voice to people whom mainstream media traditionally ignored if not disdained: conservatives.” Ailes told Johnson, liberals “hate us for coming on the scene and changing the game and making people look at both sides of issues.”
Van Susteren put it this way, “If you think about it, we all do the same stories. We all did polygamy. We all did the war. Hezbollah. We all do missing people. But there’s a reason people want to watch Fox — and the reason is we enjoy our jobs more and it pushes out to the screen. It gives us more energy and makes us push a little bit further. I think viewers pick up on it.”
The FNC anniversary comes a week and a day before Fox launches its business news companion, the Fox Business Network. FBN launches Monday October 15 to about 30 million subscribers.