All-news cablers jockey on healthcare vote

CNN pips past Fox News Channel in final hour

The political wrangling over the health care reform bill was nothing compared to the spinning among the all-news cablers about the ratings for coverage of Sunday’s big vote.

Fox News Channel had the edge by a wide margin over CNN and MSNBC for most of the night, but CNN spiked into the lead the key 11 p.m.-midnight EST hour when the vote was taken.

The debate and vote played out like a political thriller on the three all-news cablers — and by sharp contrast was mostly ignored by the Big Four nets, which stuck with regular Sunday programming. The news cablers went wall-to-wall throughout the day with coverage of the strenuous speechifying from House members leading in to the vote-taking, The nets build the tension with graphics and counters that tracked every yea and nay until the final 219-212 partisan tally was in the history books.

Fox News Channel averaged 2.7 million viewers from 6 p.m.-midnight EST, compared to 2.1 million for CNN and 887,000 for MSNBC. Fox News had a sizable advantage over CNN in nearly every hour of the day starting at 6 a.m. But at 10 p.m., CNN swelled to 3.1 million (from 2 million at 9 p.m.), compared to Fox’s 3.3 million. At 11 p.m., CNN climbed to 3.3 million while Fox News eased to 2.4 million. MSNBC climbed from 752,000 at 9 p.m. to 1.5 million at 11 p.m.

The story was the same in the key adults 25-54 demographic. Fox News dominated the day by a mile for all but the 11 p.m. hour, when CNN averaged 1.2 million viewers in the key news demo to Fox News’ 906,000 and MSNBC’s 563,000.

Compared to its year-to-date average in the Sunday 6 p.m.-midnight frame, Fox News and CNN were up by triple digits. MSNBC saw a more modest bounce of about 26%.

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