CNN GOP Debate Donald Trump
AP Photo/Wilfredo Le

Interest in the presidential primary races continues to be a boon for the cable news networks, with CNN last week drawing more viewers in primetime (2.97 million) than any other cable network.

This marks the second time in three weeks that CNN has been on top, and it’s the eighth straight week overall that either CNN or Fox News Channel has been the most-watched cable network in primetime, according to Nielsen. Fox News has actually placed first or second every week of 2016, and last week marked a network-record eighth consecutive week that it has rated as the No. 1 cable network on a total-day basis (1.41 million viewers).

Last week (March 7-13) also marked the second time in three weeks that CNN finished No. 1 as well in the key news demo of adults 25-54 (947,000). In adults 18-49, it placed second (798,000) — behind only AMC (850,000), home of megahit zombie drama “The Walking Dead.”

CNN was propelled last week by its coverage of a Republican debate on Thursday, which drew 11.808 million viewers, and a Democratic debate on Wednesday, which drew 3.947 million. Also, the second week of its original series “Race for the White House,” following a Democratic town hall on Sunday, drew nearly 2 million viewers, including about 630,000 adults 25-54.

The network was also above average on other nights, including Friday where coverage of breaking news at the Trump rally in Chicago drove viewership to 1.77 million. (It still finished well behind FNC’s 3.09 million, but both networks clearly were on the rise. And in the 25-54 demo, CNN’s second-place 614,000 was more than double its total for the previous Friday.)

On a total-day basis last week, CNN ranked No. 4 among all cable networks in overall viewers and No. 9 among adults 25-54.

Compared with the same week a year ago, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC combined to draw 6.29 million viewers and 1.69 million adults 25-54 — more than double their total for the comparable week last year (2.86 million; 711,000 adults 25-54). CNN specifically drew more than six times what it attracted a year ago in both total viewers (2.97 million vs. 480,000) and adults 25-54 (947,000 vs. 166,000).

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