CNN led the cable news charge Saturday night at 10 PM when the White House Correspondents’ Dinner was in full boil. The network flooded the zone with three hours of Nerd Prom, starting at about 8 PM ET. MSNBC began its coverage at 9 PM. Fox News Channel stuck with its regular schedule until 10 PM, when it switched to a special on the Benghazi investigation. FNC ran the guts of the WHCD — President Obama‘s speech followed by NBCU star Joel McHale — at midnight.
C-SPAN had the most comprehensive coverage of the annual Hollywood celebrity petting zoo for Washington press and the government officials they cover. Once again, C-SPAN’s coverage began with its traditional camera-trained-on-boom-mike coverage of celebs arriving at the hotel and the C-SPAN LeahyCam. Sadly C-SPAN is not rated by Nielsen, so those of you who watched on that network are lost to history.
Related: Video: Joel McHale’s Speech at WHCD
At 9 PM ET, CNN averaged 752,000 viewers, 197,000 in the news demo. Another 443,000 watched the dinner on MSNBC, 151,000 in the demo. FNC, sticking with regular programming, clocked more viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined — 1.31 million viewers, though just 137,000 in the demo. At 10 PM ET, CNN’s crowd swelled to 1.08 million viewers, 336,000 in the demo; MSNBC drew 846,000, 261,000 in demo; FNC’s crowd dropped to 922,000, 87,000 in the demo.
President Obama began the event’s POTUS Song and Dance around 10:20 PM. McHale followed at 10:40 PM and spoke for about a half-hour, after which everyone jumped up and ran to the Vanity Fair party. In the 11 PM hour, CNN and MSNBC crashed – to 618,000 and 453,000 viewers, respectively. FNC did the same, landing at 469,000 viewers for the hour overall. FNC’s replay of the dinner and its speechifying, at midnight, averaged 493,000 viewers (142,000 in demo) at midnight.