Zimmerman Trial Revs Up Ratings for Cable News Networks

Zimmerman Trial Revs Up Ratings Cable

HLN and CNN benefit most, but Fox remains primetime leader in demo, total viewers

As the verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial nears, cable news networks — especially CNN and HLN — are seeing increased viewership.

For the first three nights of this week, CNN, Fox News, HLN and MSNBC have averaged a combined 4.081 million viewers in primetime — a 14% rise over the 3.605 million they drew for the first three nights of the week before the trial.

And in the key news demo of adults 25-54, the gain is a hefty 49% (1.042 million vs. 700,000) — an indication that interest in the case has brought a younger audience to cable news than it typically draws.

Fox News Channel remains the ratings leader in primetime — drawing nearly as many viewers this week as CNN, HLN and MSNBC combined — but its three-day average this week (1.904 million) is actually a bit below the 2.033 million it drew from June 17-19. The other nets were all up: CNN (700,000, up 75%), HLN (671,000, up 80%) and MSNBC (607,000, up 7%).

All four nets are drawing more adults 25-54 than the week before the trial. FNC leads with 337,000 (up 15%), followed by HLN (288,000, up 123%) CNN (264,000, up 94%) and MSNBC (153,000, up 7%).

Since the Zimmerman trial began June 24, both CNN (“Self Defense or Murder”) and HLN (“After Dark”) have devoted nightly 10 o’clock programs on the courtroom highlights of the day. The HLN program actually has been going for a while, with the network introducing it during coverage of the Jodi Arias trial earlier this year.

In-home viewership for the Zimmerman verdict could surpass that of Casey Anthony’s acquittal two years ago, when a combined tune-in of 11.3 million watched on cable alone. (Nielsen limits its estimates to viewing done in homes, so this total does not include viewing done in offices, bars, airports or other places.)

HLN was an especially big beneficiary back then, drawing the biggest total audience in the network’s history. From 2:15 to 2:30 p.m. ET, when Anthony was found not guilty of murdering her young daughter, the network drew a big 5.2 million viewers — or about 18 times what HLN typically draws in the afternoon — to lead Fox News (2.9 million), CNN (2.3 million) and MSNBC (900,000), according to Nielsen.

In May, the verdict in the Arias murder trial drew a combined 6.9 million viewers on Fox News (2.76 million), HLN (2.2 million), CNN (1.52 million) and MSNBC (395,000).

The announcement of the verdict in O.J. Simpson’s trial in October 1995 was watched by more than 150 million viewers — a record audience for a single event — with about 75% of U.S. adults watching.

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  1. C. Anthony says:

    I don’t know why anyone would be happy about any of this. The justice system isn’t about winners and losers, it’s about evidence, the law, innocence, and guilt. The reality here is that two people made bad decisions and one of them paid with their life. It’s unfortunate and I can certainly sympathize with the family of Mr. Martin and those who believe Mr. Zimmerman should not have gone completely unpunished. However, punishment is not for the public as a whole to administer. We are a nation of laws; sometimes the system works and sometimes the system fails. In this case, as unsatisfying as it may be, the jury decided a defendants fate based on what the State allowed them to chose from. If we don’t like the laws; then we petition our representatives to adjust them where appropriate. Again, as it relates to this case, Zimmerman broke no laws leading up to the confrontation. Unfortunately, only one person knows what happened from the moment the two met until the time the shot was fired. I wasn’t there and it would be utterly irresponsible of me to claim I know what happened. In this country it’s the States burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and the State failed to do so. If there is still anger out there I would suggest it be directed toward those who’s duty it was to ensure Justice was served. I’m not suggesting anything other than actively engaging in the political and legal processes to remove those who failed and to change those laws which do not serve us as a citizenry.

    As for the media… What do you expect to get from entities who’s sole purpose is monetary gain through advertising dollars. I can assure you that money will eventually trump the need to report the facts. I’m genuinely shocked by the faith and trust so many give to these networks. They all have an agenda, they all have investors to answer to, and will say whatever is necessary to further their cause and placate the wolves.

  2. Ray says:

    Zimmerman’s trial is over. Not Guilty. Why does the news media keep adding fuel to the fire by constantly repeating everything over and over all day and all night It appears to me the media is trying to keep everyone in an uproar..

  3. Dee says:

    First casey anthony now george Zimmerman…. .. way to go florida!!!!!!

  4. Dee says:

    Was trayvon breaking into someone’s car, was he breaking into someone’s home, was he harassing someone on the street, No….all he was doing was trying to get home to watch a game, all these people saying that the verdict was justified, what if it was your son…, weather black,hispanic, asian or white….you would be pushing for the death penalty…..if someones following you and you fear for your life your going to do whatever It takes to defend yourself!!!!

  5. B.L Walton says:

    There was an article my facebook where 4 african-americans that met a white guy in a service station for the first time beat him up and threw him into traffic and killed. NO charges were imposed on the 4 people age ranging from 17-19 it didn’t even make the news. now I don’t believe in killing someone without reason(self defence) or fear for my family. I personally think that Travyon Martin had a little macho going on and that George didn’t was taken by surprise with the bunch to the nose and then everything went south. If I were a community watch person in Florida I would not patrol another night. He had the right to bear arms and I supect if thing were reversed nothing would have been said

  6. John Rivera says:

    Reblogged this on Americans for Political Change and commented:
    That’s all that matters for the media–ratings.

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