Over half a million more viewers Friday night tuned to Fox News Channel over CNN as news broke that the manhunt for the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing was over. In the 7 PM ET hour, Fox News was number one among cable news networks with 5.748 million viewers compared to CNN’s 5.195 million. However, the Jeff Zucker-run network bested the News Corp-owned FNC in the key adults 25-54 demographic during the crucial hour Friday; CNN had 2.322 million in the demo to FNC’s 1.574 million. MSNBC was third in viewership and the demo with 1.429 million watching and 459,000 in 25-54. Over the total day, the result in the demo and viewership was the best CNN has done for a non-political event since the 2003 launch of the Iraq War. With the exception of Election Day last year, FNC had its highest rate viewership in both total day and primetime since 2003 also.
Fox News’ total viewership actually peaked during the 8 PM hour with 7.645 million watching Shep Smith anchor the network’s coverage. CNN had 6.784 million viewers. Over the night’s 8-11 PM primetime, FNC had 5.970 million viewers (1.926 million in the demo) to CNN’s 5.371 million (2.474 million in 25-54) and MSNBC’s 1.717 million (459,000 in demo). In total, aproximately 42 million viewers tuned into watch coverage on FNC, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS and NBC of the end of the manhunt from 8 PM to 9 PM ET on Friday. According to Nielsen, NBC was number one with 10.7 million watching, ABC was next with 7.8 million viewers, FNC had 7.6 million, CBS garnered 6.9 million, CNN was close behind with 6.8 million and MSNBC had 1.7 million viewers in the one-hour period. With preemptions all over the country, the man nets pulled in 35.9 million viewers over the three hours of primetime on April 19. That’s strongly up from the 22 million they get most Friday evenings.