Cable News Network, the 10-year-old cable service the tv industry had shunned in its infant stages, has dominated the domestic airwaves during the Persian Gulf war.
Within its 56.7 million cable universe, CNN was reporting to its largest viewership ever. On Jan. 17 (the war’s second evening and the latest available Nielsen numbers), CNN aver aged a 16.5 primetime rating compared with ABC’s 7.1, NBC’s 5.6 and CBS’ 5.4 (also measured within the CNN universe).
In addition, the local metered-market category labeled “other” – which lumps together viewing alternatives outside the regular broadcast outlets, and includes CNN – jumped drastically in several markets. In New York, for example, the category went up more than 10 ratings points in primetime the evening of Jan. 15.
In terms of national overnight numbers for the 25 metered markets, the broadcast race ended Thursday, Jan. 18, as follows: ABC in first place, with a 16.7 rating/24 share, NBC second with a 12.9/18 and CBS third with a 10.8/15.
Meanwhile, President Bush’s nationally televised speech announcing war with Iraq was watched by more Americans than any broadcast in tv history except for President Kennedy’s funeral, according to preliminary ratings.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.