The heated criticism CNN received Thursday for its coverage of the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects has had little negative impact on its ratings.

In primetime Thursday, CNN actually reduced the gap between itself and cable news ratings leader Fox News Channel — and briefly moved ahead when the manhunt intensified overnight.

CNN averaged 1.4 million total viewers in primetime Thursday, compared with 2.5 million for Fox News. That deficit of 1.1 million was a hair smaller than the 1.2 million viewer gap on Wednesday.

In the 25-54 demo, audience totals for CNN (522,000) and Fox (536,000) were almost identical, compared with a gap of 71,000 in the same period on Wednesday.

Then, from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. Eastern on Friday, CNN moved ahead of Fox News, drawing 986,000 overall (419,000 in 25-54), compared with 954,000 (392,000) for Fox News from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. Eastern. That might have been a result of CNN apparently picking up the manhunt story at 1:13 a.m., compared with 1:24 a.m. for Fox News.

Fox News certainly drew more viewers from Monday through Thursday than CNN. Its lowest figure in total day average viewers, Wednesday’s 1.6 million, was higher than CNN’s best of 1.4 million Monday, the day of the marathon explosions that left three dead.

MSNBC and HLN lagged, each averaging little more than 500,000 viewers from Monday-Thursday.

CNN Fox News Ratings