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CNN blacks out Fox in key demo Thur.

'King' rules cable news skeins, tops 'O'Reilly'

CNN got back some of its juice during the Great Blackout, outperforming rival Fox News Channel Thursday night in total viewers and in the key 25-54 demo.

CNN’s “Larry King Live” was the highest-rated cable newsshow of the evening in a rare loss for “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News. “King,” which carried live coverage of the blackout on its East Coast edition, averaged 2.6 million total viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.

But once power was largely restored in Gotham and large parts of the Northeast and Midwest on Friday, Fox News once again took the lead.

All the news nets enjoyed a spike in numbers, as viewers tuned in for info on the country’s worst blackout ever.

The significance of CNN’s showing Thursday was hard to read, considering that 15% of the national TV aud remained in the dark for as much as 29 hours, and even more in some isolated areas. TV insiders said CNN should be given its due, pointing out that the news net still did well, even when losing key auds in New York City and Detroit.

Fox run stopped

Blackout marked the first time since the space shuttle Columbia disaster earlier this year that CNN has pulled ahead of Fox News, which has been on a smash ratings run for well over a year.

“Unfortunately for CNN, there’s not a natural disaster everyday,” a Fox News spokeswoman said.

Ratings for the cable news nets were the first released by Nielsen Media Research for the blackout period. Nielsen said it would take more time than normal to tally ratings for all of the cable and broadcast nets.

According to Nielsen, CNN averaged 2.41 million viewers during the primetime hours Thursday, compared with the 1.86 million viewers Fox News averaged. MSNBC lagged in third place, averaging 980,000 total viewers.

CNN’s edge in the key 25-54 demo was substantial, averaging 1 million viewers to 588,000 for Fox News.

Expanding the time period from 4:15 p.m. ET — when the blackout commenced — to 2 a.m. ET Friday, CNN’s edge narrowed, finishing the time period with a 76,000 viewer edge over Fox News.

Fox come back

By early Friday evening, power was largely restored to the impacted regions. Same seemed to go when it came to Fox News.

According to Nielsen, FNC averaged 1.3 million viewers Friday in primetime, while CNN averaged 744,000 viewers.

Like CNN, MSNBC’s average also dropped by more than two-thirds compared with Thursday night. According to Nielsen, MSNBC averaged 260,000 total viewers.