2016 marks a big year for the U.S. with the presidential election coming up in November, so how are people getting information on their favorite candidates? According to a survey of 3,760 U.S. adults by Pew Research Center,  About nine-in-ten U.S. adults (91%) learned about the election from at least one of 11 types of sources asked about, ranging from television to digital to radio to print. Most, 24 percent, said they found cable TV news most helpful.

Cable channels have accrued rating increases with the crop of candidates from the Republican and Democratic parties. The audience for the Republican debate on February 6th, shown on ABC, was 13.18 million. According to Nielsen this figure is  up 6% from the 12.46 million who watched the January 28th GOP debate in Des Moines on Fox News.

A young woman gives off in an election vote. ballot at the polling station.

The fourth Democratic primary debate held on January 17th, 2016, on NBC was watched by 10.2 million viewers, according to Nielsen data. That figure ranks second among the four Democratic debates held so far.

So, in comparison, how have these channels done overall for the year, looking back at 2015?

Yearly Ratings in Cable

Cable channels in 2015 did considerably better than year’s past. For the first time ever, Fox News ranked second among all cable channels in weekday prime-time audience size, with an average of 1.8 million viewers, according to the network’s compilation of Nielsen data in 2016.

In prime time news, CNN was a distant second with an average of 712,000 viewers. Their morning show enjoyed a 14 percent boost year over year. Even the struggling MSNBC saw a 47% increase in their politically focused a.m. program in the last quarter of 2015 compared to the same period in 2014.

It appears Americans are taking a bigger interest in this year’s election than in one’s past based on a poll in December stating, 74 percent of Americans said they have given at least some thought to the presidential candidates — up from 68 percent at the same point eight years ago.

Image of multiple computer screens with various images

What’s Next?

In addition to becoming the dominant leader for candidate information, cable also houses the majority of debates including, ABC, FOX, and MSNBC. The second highest source for content was the internet, however most only catch clips or videos of the speeches and not the entire debate or read through comments on social media.

This increase in cable viewership has happened still nine months away from the actual election. What do you think we can expect from cable once it gets down to two candidates?