TV Ratings: CNN's 'Final Five' Gooses Demo

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The cable network's special forum edges past Fox News among adults 25-54 — though the latter wins primetime by 1 million total viewers.

Cable news' play for 2016 campaign ratings unofficially entered a new phase on Monday night. With the GOP debates unceremoniously wrapped one event early, and only two yet-to-be-scheduled democratic showdowns potentially on the horizon, CNN aired a sit-down with the remaining candidates from both parties.

Dubbed The Final Five, the forum featured interviews with Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. And while it obviously did not approach the highs of the intraparty face-offs, it did offer some growth on an otherwise typical night. Airing for the entire primetime block, 8 to 11 p.m. ET, CNN edged past Fox News Channel for a nightly victory among adults 25-54 — averaging 592,000 viewers in the key news demo. That put it 4,000 ahead of Fox News.

The competition for total viewers was still an easy win for FNC. The network, which won primetime across all of cable last week for the ninth consecutive week, topped CNN by 1 million with an average 2.8 million viewers in primetime. (Earlier in the evening, FNC’s Special Report With Bret Baier averaged 2.6 million viewers with Kasich and Cruz interviews.)

MSNBC came in third on Monday night, averaging 1.07 million viewers and 269,000 adults 25-54.

The Final Five was something of a hybrid telecast, combining a mix of live interviews and taped segments with the candidates. And it may be a sign of things to come. All three of the cable news networks are likely going to be more inventive in their plays for election-related ratings as the field continues to narrow and the marquee debates now likely done until the two parties' general election candidates square off in the fall.