Fox News Channel finished in first place in April’s cable news ratings, but 2013 still looks a lot better to CNN than April 2012. A year ago, CNN was in third place with its lowest-rated month in total day in more than a decade and its worst primetime in almost two years. This month, fueled by extended coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings and the Texas fertilizer warehouse explosion, CNN saw double-digit viewership growth and triple-digit upward turns in the key adults 25-54 demographic. As a result, the Jeff Zucker-run network moved up to second place ahead of MSNBC in viewership and the demo for the first time in a year, posting its best results since the November 2012 elections. CNN’s sister network HLN actually slipped ahead of MSNBC in the demo too for Total Day with 142,000 viewers. Here’s the big three rankings:

FNC: 1,233M total viewers – Up 14% (278,000 in 25-54 – Up 2%)
CNN: 638,000 total viewers – Up 79% (228,000 in 25-54 – Up 111%)
MSNBC: 406,000 total viewers – Down 4% (139,000 in 25-54 – Up 1%)

FNC: 2.016M total viewers – Up 9% (389,000 in 25-54 – Down 2%)
CNN: 918,000 total viewers – Up 81% (338,000 in 25-54 – Up 127%)
MSNBC: 682,000 total viewers – Down 10% (234,000 in 25-54 – Down 1%)

Having beat usual top dog USA Network and top all of cable for the week of April 15-21, Fox News finished second in primetime for the month. The News Corp-owned network last reached that spot in March 2011 during the Japan earthquake and tsunami. CNN was No. 17 in the total cable ranking, with MSNBC No. 27.

With the top 13 shows in cable news based on total viewers, Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor was the top show in the demo, with Anderson Cooper 360 in fourth as the top CNN show in adults 25-54. Fox News had six of the top 10 cable news shows in the 25-54 demo for April. Coming in at No. 20 among cable news shows for the month, CNN’s The Lead With Jake Tapper was the only new kid on the block compared with last year. After an unsteady start March 18, the one-hour afternoon show is up 54% in total viewers (829,000) over what the first hour of Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room had in the same slot last year. Ahead of MSNBC in the time period, the former ABC White House correspondent’s show has also seen triple-digit gains in the 25-54 demo year-over-year: For April 2013, The Lead pulled in 258,000 in the key demo, a 108% rise over the 124,000 viewers for Situation Room last April.

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