Cable news ratings race heats up

CNN, MSNBC set sights on second-place

NEW YORK–The race for second-place in cable news is suddenly getting heated.

Last week, MSNBC edged CNN in the 25-54 demographic in primetime, a rare win for the third-place news net.

In the same week, CNN.com edged MSNBC.com in web traffic, according to Hitwise, making CNN.com the third most-visited news site behind Yahoo News and The Weather Channel.

MSNBC’s demo win came in a week when CNN subbed Headline News’ Glenn Beck for “Paula Zahn Now” at 8 pm and MSNBC devoted three hours on July 4 to episodes of the “To Catch A Predator” series from “Dateline.”

The last time MSNBC won a week against CNN in the demo was in April, when it hosted presidential debates in South Carolina.

MSNBC averaged 201,000 in the 25-54 demo over the week, just ahead of CNN’s 193,000 average viewers. Fox News Channel led all cable news with 307,000 demo viewers.

In total viewers, Fox News Channel averaged 1.17 million in primetime, compared to 616,000 for CNN and 523,000 for MSNBC.

On the web front, CNN.com broke MSNBC.com’s longtime hold on third place among news and information sites according to Hitwise. CNN.com claimed a 3.69% share of web audience and MSNBC.com had 3.46%.

The shift coincides with a cosmetic revamp of CNN.com and the conversion of its subscription “Pipeline” video feed into a free service.

The site was relaunched on July 1.

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