Iowa Caucuses Ratings: Cable News Networks Surge to 10.2 Million Viewers

CNN Leads in Demos, Fox News Channel in Total Viewers

Iowa Caucus Ratings
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Viewer interest in this year’s Iowa Caucuses races was especially high, according to early ratings returns from last night, with roughly 10.2 million watching one of the three cable news networks in primetime — roughly double the total of four years ago.

Fox News Channel was the most-watched cable newser in primetime, eclipsing network records with 4.46 million viewers for the event, according to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen. It was followed by CNN (3.73 million) and MSNBC (1.97 million), bringing the three-network total to 10.16 million viewers. By comparison, one week earlier the same three networks combined for 5.84 million viewers during primetime.

Four years ago, the cable news networks drew about half the audience as last night (5.14 million). And in 2008, when Barack Obama defeated Hillary Clinton in the Democratic race, the networks combined to draw nearly 6 million in primetime for coverage of the Iowa Caucuses.

In the key news demo of adults 25-54, CNN set an all-time Iowa Caucus primetime record Monday with 1.39 million, followed by FNC (1.16 million) and MSNBC (592,000). The week-over-week gains were even larger here, with the three networks more than doubling their combined 25-54 deliveries of the prior Monday (3.14 million vs. 1.37 million).

Overall viewership peaked for all networks in the 10:30 p.m. half-hour, which was highlighted by speeches by Sen. Marco Rubio and Donald Trump. FNC drew 5.1 million viewers (and 1.5 million adults 25-54) from 10:30 to 10:45 p.m., and CNN maxed out from 10:45-11 p.m. with 4.3 million and 1.8 million in the demo. MSNBC drew its largest audience from 10:30-10:45 (2.5 million, including 800,000 in the demo).

CNN Digital registered its third best day in history, according to CNN, with more than 5 million unique viewers on CNNPolitics.com, 3 million mobile app users and 14 million unique visitors for CNN Digital overall.

Online news network The Young Turks (TYTNetwork.com) set ratings records of its own with 256,000 unique viewers for its seven-hour coverage of the Iowa Caucuses — the largest audience for a live broadcast in the Young Turks’ 10-year history of live streaming. The coverage was anchored Monday from the show’s Los Angeles studio by Cenk Uygur, Ana Kasparian, John Iadarola and Ben Mankiewicz. Jimmy Dore and Jordan Chariton were part of the coverage on the ground in Iowa.

Ted Cruz was the winner on the Republican side Monday, followed by Trump and Rubio. Hillary Clinton won by a razor-thin margin over Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side, a result that wasn’t made official until today.