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Levy sparks cable news rates gains

CNN, FNC, MSNBC all see July jumps

The cable news nets milked the Chandra Levy case for big ratings in July, and it paid off.

CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC all saw their ratings jump during the month, in which coverage of the missing Washington intern was often nonstop. Even CNBC got into the action, with Geraldo Rivera covering the scandal closely.

In primetime, CNN averaged 580,000 households, up 44% compared to last July, while MSNBC averaged 247,000 households, a 19% jump. Meanwhile, Fox News Channel averaged 532,000 households, a whopping 136% gain over the same time last year. Boosted by “Geraldo Live,” CNBC averaged 324,000 households, up 17% from last July.

Big growth

During total day, Fox News gave CNN a run for its money. The upstart news net averaged 274,000 households, compared to CNN’s 294,000 households even though CNN is in approximately 15 million more homes. MSNBC averaged 195,000 households. Still, the numbers represented an across-the-board improvement from last July — CNN was up 30%, MSNBC gained by 39% and Fox News jumped a staggering 149%.

During the day, when CNBC stuck to financial news coverage, its ratings were largely unaffected by the Levy case. CNBC averaged 252,000 households, a meager 4% increase from last July.

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