For the last several weeks, MSNBC bet big on George Zimmerman. “The Place For Politics” dedicated as much if not more coverage and discussion to the Sanford, Florida murder trial than it’s primary competitors Fox and CNN. And it all culminated with the verdict announcement at the unfortunate hour of 10pm on Saturday night. When the jury announced it had acquitted Zimmerman of all charges, MSNBC found itself in fourth place in the ratings, behind, Fox, CNN and HLN.
According to preliminary numbers, Fox News was #1 in total viewers with 3.862M. CNN came in second with 3.407M, followed by sister network HLN with 2.203M. MSNBC was fourth with only 1.298M, far higher than what the network normally sees late on Saturday nights with episodes of the prison documentary series Lockup, but far behind their major competitors. Overall, more than 10 million people tuned in to hear the verdict. CNN came in first in the 25-54 demo with 1.716M viewers, while Fox was second with 1.113M. Again, HLN was third with 980K in the demo and MSNBC was last with 510K.
Whether viewers were actively turned off by MSNBC’s largely pro-prosecution coverage–moments after it was announced Al Sharpton called the verdict an “atrocity”–or it was just another example of chief Phil Griffin‘s “breaking news” problem is difficult to say. Either way, when it came to finding out whether Zimmerman was guilty and hearing reactions from pundits, MSNBC was clearly the last cable news station on Americans’ minds.
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