TV Ratings: Viewership Surges During Cable News Coverage of Boston Marathon Bombing

Numbers climb throughout the day, though primetime sees the biggest boost with 8 million viewers tuning in across Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC in the peak hours.
Shep Smith anchoring FNC's Boston coverage

Cable news' wall-to-wall coverage of Monday's bombing at the Boston Marathon drove viewership to highs not seen since February's State of the Union address.

Viewership peaked during primetime, with Fox News Channel (3.9 million), CNN (2.75 million) and MSNBC (1.25 million) pulling in a cumulative average of 7.9 million viewers between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. In the targeted adults 25-to-54 demographic, numbers also were up tremendously for a Monday, with CNN notching 1.32 million, followed by FNC (1.2 million) and MSNBC (4610,000).

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Compared with the previous Monday, leader FNC nearly doubled its dominant primetime viewership from 2 million a week ago. CNN, which typically sees the biggest boosts from its third-place status, was up a whopping 750 percent from the previous Monday's 367,000 average. MNSBC also was up significantly from its recent 644,000 viewers.

Attention on cable news started early after word of the two explosions spread. Viewership first spiked between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. EDT, with FNC (1.96 million), CNN (970,000) and MSNBC (435,000) all rising in the afternoon hour. By 4 p.m., viewership had surged further, with FNC (3.07 million), CNN (2.45 million) and MSNBC (708,000) all on their way to their primetime highs.

For the whole day, FNC averaged 1.84 million viewers, followed by CNN with 1.19 million and MSNBC with 527,000 viewers.

Complete ratings info below:

3:07-4 p.m. EDT (when the news broke)
FNC: 1,961,000 total viewers (542,000 adults 25-54)
CNN: 970,000 total viewers (349,000 adults 25-54)
MSNBC: 435,000 total viewers (129,000 adults 25-54)

4-5 p.m. (first full hour of coverage)
FNC: 3,072,000 total viewers (874,000 adults 25-54)
CNN: 2,446,000 total viewers (868,000 adults 25-54)
MSNBC: 708,000 total viewers (217,000 adults 25-54)

FNC: 3,915,000 total viewers (1,199,000 adults 25-54)
CNN: 2,749,000 total viewers (1,319,000 adults 25-54)
MSNBC: 1,245,000 total viewers (461,000 adults 25-54)

Total Day
FNC: 1,837,000 total viewers (516,000 adults 25-54)
CNN: 1,187,000 total viewers (501,000 adults 25-54)
MSNBC: 527,000 total viewers (182,000 adults 25-54)