Japan Tsunami/Earthquake Coverage Lifts CNN Ratings

The cable net’s ratings were up more than 400% on Friday, the first day of the devastating earthquake and tsunamis.

Coverage of the devastating earthquake and tsunamis in Northern Japan boosted CNN’s ratings by more than 400%.

On Friday, the first day of the disaster CNN offered wall-to-wall coverage from Japan. The net delivered an average audience of 2.2 million viewers (3 a.m. to 3 a.m.) compared to Fox News Channel’s 2.0 million and MSNBC’s 558,000.

The net’s coverage peaked during the 11 a.m. hour Friday with 3.6 million total viewers and 1.5 million of them in news’ target demographic of 25-54-year-olds.

In primetime (8-11 p.m.), CNN came close to beating perennial cable news leader Fox News, averaging 2.6 million total viewers to FNC’s 2.7 million. CNN did beat FNC in the demo, 1.1 million versus 757,000.

For CNN, that’s a 268% increase over its year-to-date total viewer average and a 421% jump in the demo average for the year.

The Japanese tsunami video set a new record for CNN.com video watching, with more than 60 million worldwide viewers tuning into the dramatic footage on the website.

The breakdown consisted of nearly 45 million domestic viewers and 15 million international viewers.

The numbers were five times higher over the previous record, the day after President Obama's November 2008 election win. That featured 12 million video starts.

The Chilean miner rescue is in third place with 11.5 million hits.

The death toll from Japan's earthquake and tsunami is almost certain to exceed 10,000, Japanese officials said Sunday