Rescue digs up ratings

Chilean miners do a little saving of their own

Now that they’ve been rescued, the Chilean miners are doing a little saving of their own.

The uplifting story of the miners gave CNN its own higher elevation on Tuesday night. And the 33 workers, trapped underground since August, also were on tap to rescue ABC from another rough Wednesday 10 p.m. rating.

The night-to-night difference for CNN was staggering, after the cable newser’s Monday ratings sank even lower than where “Los 33” were trapped, 2,300 feet below the ground.

That night, “Larry King Live” averaged a tiny 196,000 viewers — the show’s worst numbers in more than a decade — while newcomer “Parker/Spitzer” was also a distant fourth in its slot among cable news networks, with 311,000 viewers.

On Tuesday, fueled by anticipation for the rescue, “Larry King Live” was back in the game, with 1.4 million viewers, while an 8 p.m. Anderson Cooper special (preempting “Parker/Spitzer”) clocked in at 1.5 million. Fox News Channel dominated primetime as usual, averaging 3.2 million viewers and 737,000 adults 25-54; CNN, meanwhile, pulled ahead of MSNBC for the evening, with 2.0 million viewers and 553,000 adults 25-54.

At 11 p.m., when the first miner came to the surface, CNN managed to bring in enough viewers (4.0 million) to beat Fox News (3.5 million) and MSNBC (1.1 million).

CNN’s website also served up more than 3 million live video streams over the past two days, up 2,700% vs. the prior four weeks.

With the rescue operation continuing on Wednesday, CNN was likely to get more of a halo effect from the story. But as past events have proven, once the widespread interest in the breaking news story goes away, the cabler will once again have to contend with its ratings woes.

Meanwhile, ABC made a last-minute move to preempt Wednesday’s airing of the low-rated “The Whole Truth” to air the “20/20” special “Miracle at the Mine.” Hour was set to be anchored by Diane Sawyer and feature reporting from Chile by Bill Weir. (Network’s “Nightline” was also set to devote its half-hour to the story).

Decision to knock “The Whole Truth” wasn’t a hard one for the Alphabet; the show posted a dismal 1.3/4 in its airing last week and remains on life support.

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