There were some very tough questions, heartbreaking stories, a lot of stats and a lot of passion in Fairfax, Virginia last night in CNN’s televised town hall with President Barack Obama talking about gun violence. And while not the most watched show of its 8 PM slot, the Anderson Cooper-hosted Guns In America special was far and away the top rated show on cable news in its time period and for the night.
Among adults 25-54 the 8–9:15 PM Presidential grilling of sorts averaged 845,000 viewers. How big a deal was that for the Jeff Zucker-run CNN? Well, it was a 372% rise in the news demo from the time slot’s average over the past four Thursdays. Even when you take the holiday season into account, that’s still a surge for CNN.
Obama’s discussion of his recent executive orders to curb gun violence and mass shootings beat usual top dog Fox News Channel by 83% in the demo last night and MSNBC by a massive 272%. Still, while The O’Reilly Factor and the first 15 minutes of The Kelly File drew 463,000 viewers in the news demo, the FNC blockbusters remained easily in first place in total viewers with an audience of 3.03 million. CNN’s Guns In America special drew 2.4 million total viewers. Megyn Kelly had NRA Executive Director Chris Cox as her first guest last night directly responding to the President’s remarks from the CNN town hall.
The good ratings news continued for CNN with the 9:15–10 PM post-town hall A Presidential Town Hall Special. Also winning its slot in the demo, that non-Obama live starring show had 613,000 25-54 demo viewers to FNC’s 405,000 and MSNBC’s 265,000.