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NEW YORK — In a week of records surrounding the Republican National Convention, Fox News Channel earned another one with its weekend documentary on vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
“Sarah Palin: American Woman” averaged 2.7 million viewers in its debut at 8 p.m. ET Saturday night, Nielsen Media Research said Tuesday afternoon. That included 673,000 viewers in the adults 25-54 cable news demo.
Nielsen said it was the highest-rated primetime documentary ever in the 12-year history of the channel, surpassing high-rated ones recently about Barack Obama and Palin’s running mate, John McCain. “Barack Obama: Character & Conduct” averaged 2.3 million viewers for its mid-August Monday showing in the 8 p.m. “O’Reilly Factor” timeslot while “John McCain: Character & Conduct” the following night in the same timeslot averaged 2.6 million viewers.
It follows Fox News Channel’s strong performance during the RNC, when it beat every other network in the primetime slot. That boost gave Fox News Channel the top slot among ad-supported cable in primetime last week and made it #2 in terms of total day. It was the first time that Fox News had ranked that high among cablers in three years, during Hurricane Katrina coverage.
Also, Thursday night’s first part of a four-part interview with Obama on “The O’Reilly Factor” averaged 6.6 million viewers. It was the second highest ratings the show had ever received, and the highest in five years.
CNN landed in fifth place during the week in primetime, and eighth in total day while MSNBC was 20th in primetime and 28th in total day, Nielsen said.
The strong ratings for Palin — atop the high viewership numbers for her acceptance speech last Wednesday — bodes well for ABC News, which won the multinetwork race for the first interview with the Alaska governor. Palin will speak to ABC “World News” anchor Charles Gibson on Thursday and Friday in Alaska, and portions of the interview will appear on “World News,” “Nightline,” “Good Morning America” and a special “20/20” in primetime Friday.
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