Americans turned to cable news yesterday when new developments in the Michael Brown shooting occurred, including the announcement of no indictment and the following riots. CNN saw the most gains, especially in the important 25-54 demo. That is the demo used by advertisers. From 4 PM to midnight, CNN won every hour in the demo, starting with Jake Tapper vs. Neil Cavuto going to Don Lemon and CNN Tonight vs. Megyn Kelly. In the total day and primetime (8, 9, and 10 PM ET) demo averages, CNN also won. In the 10 PM hour, Don Lemon roughly doubled Sean Hannity’s demo number (approximately 3.5 million to 1.7 million, respectively). There were also large jumps in viewership at the 9 PM hour which is when the prosecutor announced there would be no indictment. MSNBC’s demo jumped from 236,000 to 742,000. CNN and Anderson Cooper’s rolling coverage jumped from 1.2 million to 3.155 million while Fox News jumped from 817,000 to 2.186 million.
However, Fox News won in the total viewers category of the ratings. At 9 PM, Megyn Kelly had 7.256 million compared to Anderson Cooper’s 6.265 million. Fox News continued to lead in the total viewers until Sean Hannity’s coverage in the 10 PM hour which had a drop-off compared to Megyn Kelly’s coverage in the hour. President Obama spoke on the Ferguson unrest during the first half hour of 10 PM.
While Fox News and CNN battled for ratings gold, MSNBC remained behind in third place. MSNBC had dedicated a good deal of airtime to the Michael Brown case and evening host Al Sharpton was involved in an activist role. However, this failed to translate to large viewership with MSNBC failing to crack one million in the demo and three million in the total viewers. For comparison purposes, CNN’s coverage at midnight had a slightly lower demo rating than MSNBC’s highest total viewer rating.
In the 18-49 demo, another one prized by advertisers, Anderson Cooper’s coverage on CNN had a 2.7 rating. This was ahead of all of the broadcast networks. Anderson Cooper was also the only news program in Nielsen’s Top 5 Twitter Ratings. According to a CNN press release, CNN was also the top in the 18-49 and 25-54 demos with the exception of Monday Night Football.