January 29, 2014 11:39am PT by Michael O'Connell
TV Ratings: Fox News Leads Cable's State of the Union Coverage
Fox News Channel had a decisive victory Tuesday night in the cable news grab for State of the Union viewers. Rebounding from last year's demo loss to competitors CNN and MSNBC, FNC won the night as the only news net to post gains from 2013 -- as gross viewership between the three dropped.
During President Obama's speech, which ran between 9:14 and 10:20 p.m. ET, FNC averaged 1.198 million viewers in the adults 25-54 news demo with its Bret Baier anchored coverage. That's a 25 percent increase from last year. FNC was up 28 percent among total viewers, averaging 4.719 million viewers.
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MSNBC, posting its smallest SOTU showing since 2008, averaged 2.292 million viewers and 752,000 adults 25-54 -- drops of a respective 24 and 27 percent from last year. Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow anchored. And on CNN, which saw its smallest SOTU since 2005, the fall from first place in 2013 was a steep one. The demo average, 762,000 viewers, marked a loss of 47 percent from last year. Among total viewers CNN fell 43 percent to 2.081 million. Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper and Jake Tapper shared anchoring duties, and it should be noted that last year's winning CNN coverage saw a boost from breaking news on the manhunt for L.A.P.D. shooter Christopher Dorner.
It's a close race for second by both measures for CNN and MSNBC, with CNN typically getting more of an edge from events like SOTU. FNC's growth bucked an apparent trend of disinterest in this year's address. Cable news' gross SOTU audience was down by more than 1 million viewers, about 13 percent, from 10.355 million in 2013 to 9.092 million.
Adjusted ratings for the broadcast networks won't arrive until later in the day on Wednesday, though early returns have CBS and NBC tracking well ahead of cable news.