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After The Drama Of Japan, Egypt And Libya, A Tight Race For Second Place In The Ratings

Cable news ratings, April 7, 2011:

•After an extended period as the solid third place network in cable news, the recent worldwide rush of huge stories–Japan, Egypt, Libya and others–propelled CNN for weeks into second place behind the Fox News Channel, and some of CNN’s shows, like Anderson Cooper 360, found themselves beating Fox. The international stories have cooled, and so has some of CNN’s ratings power. But the network has not returned to the lows it was experiencing just a year ago. Ratings for CNN so far in 2011 are still up 57 percent from the second half of 2010–and 46 percent compared to 2010 as a whole.

Still, some have noted a drop in overnight ratings for some of CNN’s primetime shows, with Bill Carter in The New York Times reviewing one night of ratings in detail and concluding “the cable news network’s prime-time lineup has not capitalized much on the attention its news coverage gained, returning for the most part to a steady finish in third place behind Fox News and MSNBC. The decline was illustrated by ratings from Wednesday night, when CNN lost across the board, finishing third in each of the three hours from 8 to 11 p.m.”

Thursday night didn’t stick to that script, with CNN easily beating MSNBC in primetime and total day among viewers 25-54. Anderson Cooper, singled out by the Times for a third place finish Wednesday, was back solidly in second place Thursday, with 406,000 viewers 25-54, easily outpacing MSNBC’s The Ed Show (251,000) but behind Fox’s Greta Van Susteren, who had 505,000. Cooper’s second hour, at 11 p.m., finished first, ahead of Fox’s rebroadcast of The O’Reilly Factor.

Overall Thursday, Fox News took first place each hour from five p.m. through 10 p.m., and CNN and MSNBC split the second place finishes. It’s unfair to draw any reliable conclusions based on one night (Thursday), but the overall fight for second place seems far less decided than it’s been in a long time.

Here’s the full scoreboard:

TV NEWS RATINGS: 25-54 DEMOGRAPHIC (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm Beck

450

Blitzer

181

Matthews

219

Showbiz

68

6 pm Baier

444

Blitzer

203

Live

176

Prime

67

7 pm Shep

444

King, USA

261

Matthews

220

Issues

108

8 pm O’Reilly

638

InTheArena

218

O’Donnell

222

Grace

118

9 pm Hannity

626

Morgan

321

Maddow

348

DrDrew

115

10 pm Van Susteren

505

Cooper

406

Schultz

251

Behar

96

11 pm O’Reilly

403

Cooper

408

O’Donnell

190

Showbiz

82

TOTAL DAY 365 211 155 106
PRIME TIME 590 320 273 108
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.
TV NEWS RATINGS: TOTAL VIEWERS (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm Beck

2062

Blitzer

753

Matthews

797

Showbiz

138

6 pm Baier

1990

Blitzer

647

Live

646

Prime

163

7 pm Shep

1912

King, USA

670

Matthews

704

Issues

244

8 pm O’Reilly

3009

InTheArena

724

O’Donnell

1041

Grace

343

9 pm Hannity

2456

Morgan

852

Maddow

1309

DrDrew

295

10 pm Van Susteren

2039

Cooper

1008

Schultz

901

Behar

330

11 pm O’Reilly

1424

Cooper

1095

O’Donnell

530

Showbiz

206

TOTAL DAY 1483 602 557 216
PRIME TIME 2502 899 1085 317
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data

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