July 23, 2013 2:46pm PT by Michael O'Connell
TV Ratings: The Royal Baby's Arrival Does Not Rock the Boat
Great Britain's yet-to-be-named prince made his TV debut just a few hours ago, with Prince William and Duchess Catherine stepping outside London's St. Mary's Hospital for a small press appearance -- but the infant has been a hot topic for cable and broadcast viewers since early Monday morning.
The cable news ratings battle for royal baby enthusiasts saw only key wins in total day and primetime for Fox News Channel -- while breaking news of the actual birth gave CNN an advantage in the targeted adults 25-54 demographic during the 3 p.m. hour. Comparisons to the previous Monday don't shed much light on growth, as most news outlets were still heavily covering fallout of the George Zimmerman trial, but FNC, CNN and MSNBC were all up slightly from year-to-date averages.
Breaking news of the Duchess' labor brought a morning show victory for FNC between 6 and 9 a.m. (1.1 million viewers and 244,000 adults 25-54) over second-place MSNBC and CNN in third. During the hour of the birth, CNN edged past FNC in the demographic (304,000 over 205,000). The biggest demo haul of the day, however, came during the 4 p.m. hour of the royal announcement when FNC averaged 326,0000 adults 25-54. The top audience of the day came in primetime with FNC averaging 1.93 million viewers for its coverage.
Options, of course, were not limited to cable news outlets. And while the broadcast networks' three news players all covered the birth, some shied away while others chose to break into primetime. CBS kept its coverage to a minimum, and, perhaps as a result, no growth of consequence. CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley remained in third place, while Brian Williams and Diane Sawyer's respective broadcasts swelled. ABC World News was up the most, week to week, with early returns giving it 7.8 million viewers. And NBC Nightly News, still up by over 500,000 viewers, averaged a dominant 8 million viewers. (CBS had 6.6 million).
NBC was the only one of the broadcast networks to interrupt primetime. It aired Dateline special The Little Prince to a solid boost from typical 10 p.m. Monday fare (ratings-challenged Siberia) but a lackluster 2.97 million viewers.
Barbara Walters likely hopes to do better than Dateline's Natalie Morales on Tuesday night. ABC News announced plans earlier in the day for 20/20 special Heir to the Throne to air at 10 p.m.