Fox News Channel and CNN both logged their biggest primetime crowds of the year, excluding presidential debates, when viewers tuned in to learn about the attacks in Paris on Friday that killed at least 129 people and injured hundreds more. The two cable news networks traded hourly wins in the news demo that night.
On a night when TV viewing typically fades, FNC logged 4.4M viewers in primetime, including 1.2M in the news demo. CNN clocked 3.2M viewers and a leading 1.3M in the news demo. MSNBC averaged 1.24M viewers, with 353K in the news demo, both of which were down compared to previous Friday prime, which had included Rachel Maddow’s highly hyped forum with the three Democratic presidential candidates, which clocked 2.3M viewers from 8-10 PM.
To understand the impact: Previous Friday, CNN posted 454K viewers in primetime and 113K news demo viewers; FNC logged 2M viewers and 279K news demo viewers. MSNBC’s forum Friday logged a primetime average of 1.82M viewers and 360 news demo viewers.
CNN peaked that night with 8 PM’s Anderson Cooper 360 (3.7M viewers, 1.5M news demo viewers). Fox News Channel also peaked at 8, with Shep Smith anchoring the network’s news desk (4.9M viewers, 1.3M news demo viewers). MSNBC, which once again brought in Brian Williams to anchor the major breaking news, per NBC News chief Andy Lack’s plan for Williams rehabilitation, attracted its biggest audience in the 9 PM hour (1.4M viewers, 418K news demo viewers).
Both broadcast and cable networks carried President Obama’s speech that evening, addressing the “heartbreaking situation.” “This is an attack of all of humanity and the universal values that we share,” he said. “We stand prepared to provide whatever assistance the government and people of France need to respond. France is our oldest ally … and we want to be very clear that we stand together with them in the fight against terrorism and extremism.”