2:30pm PT by Michael O'Connell
TV Ratings: Justin Bieber Boost? Aggressive Arrest Coverage Lifts Some
Justin Bieber's wild ride through Miami Beach didn't just land him in the county clink. The 19-year-old's Thursday arrest and charges for DUI, resisting arrest and having an expired driver's license made him hard to avoid on TV throughout the day.
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Bieber's woes were a popular topic on CNN, which has already prepped a Friday special devoted to the arrest. Even Fox News Channel and MSNBC, which often show a little more restraint in celebrity matters, offered frequent updates on the action. (MSNBC is getting semiviral flak for a clip of Andrea Mitchell interrupting former U.S. Rep. Jane Harman talking about NSA eavesdropping with a "breaking" Bieber alert.)
But did the viewers care? It's almost impossible to look at just one day of cable news ratings and make any sound judgments, but the Big Three seemed relatively unaffected by the event.
FNC led the cable news networks with an average 1.336 million viewers and 279,000 adults 25-54 throughout the day. Those numbers, double-digit lifts from the comparable day last year, are pretty much on par with last Thursday. MSNBC was also steady with last Thursday, and CNN slightly improved its third-place showing by roughly 20,000 viewers in both measures.
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Decisions to cover Bieber were somewhat rehashed on Friday. FNC's Greta Van Susteren, for example, took to her blog to address the previous night's broadcast of On the Record.
"Viewers want a mixture of stories which varies from day to day, and they want to know what is going on now, right now, today," the anchor wrote. "And guess what? Yesterday I paid attention to Justin Bieber stories, too. I plead guilty. I was interested in Justin Bieber."
The real benefits to Bieber's bust seem to be for those who regularly focus on entertainment. Ratings for syndicated series such as Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood aren't immediately available, but E! News certainly saw a lift. The nightly show, which gave Bieber a bit of airtime, was up 37 percent from its four-week average for its most watched episode in nearly two months. It averaged 764,000 viewers.