On a good night for special programming on the cable news networks, CNN scored Sunday with “Weed 3” and “High Profits” while Fox saw viewership spike for the second week of “Legends & Lies: The Real West.”
According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, “Weed 3: The Marijuana Revolution” averaged 299,000 adults 25-54 in the 9 o’clock hour to dominate the time period in the demo and stand as the top cable news program of the night. The special reported by Dr. Sanjay Gupta beat programming on Fox News by 59% (188,000) and more than tripled the number for MSNBC (98,000). Compared to the prior four Sundays, CNN was up 32% while FNC rose by 29% and MSNBC tumbled by 41%.
“Weed 3,” which averaged 744,000 viewers overall, was especially dominant among the youngest of adults. Its 80,000 viewers in the demo beat MSNBC (63,000) by 27% and nearly three times the tune-in on Fox News (28,000).
A year ago, the March premiere of “Weed 2” averaged 354,000 adults 25-54 and 757,000 total viewers.
At 10 p.m., the first episode of CNN’s new eight-part docu-series “High Profits,” about a business-minded couple with a plan to franchise marijuana, also was No. 1 in cable news in 25-54 for its timeslot (284,000) — finishing comfortably ahead of Fox News (205,000) and more than doubling MSNBC (115,000). And in adults 18-34, it grew sharply on its “Weed” lead-in (132,000 vs. 80,000) and beat the combined tune-in for MSNBC and FNC. In total viewers, “High Profits” drew 643,000, finishing behind an encore telecast of “Legends and Lies” on Fox News (760,000).
Of the 18 CNN original series season premieres to date, “High Profits” rated No. 2 in adults 18-34, behind only the “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” season-one premiere.
Fox News Channel carried the 8 o’clock hour among cable news networks with the second week of “Legends & Lies: The Real West.” It spiked 166% in adults 25-54 from its week-earlier premiere (274,000 vs. 103,000) while adding on 47% more total viewers (1.52 million vs. 1.02 million). Compared to the same time period last year, FNC nearly tripled its demo average.
The series also delivered FNC its highest-rated Sunday primetime in the demo since March 2014 and in total viewers since last November.