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Primary Ratings: Cable News Has Another Big Night; Fox Leads All Networks

Fox News Channel finished on top in both the demo (narrowly over CNN) and total viewers Tuesday as it and the other cable news networks combined for another sizable slice of the viewership pie with coverage of the New Hampshire primary.

Despite going up against all-original sweeps programming on the broadcast networks, Fox News Channel (4.17 million), CNN (2.73 million) and MSNBC (1.75 million) drew 8.65 million viewers during primetime, according to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen. Last night’s tune-in for the cable networks was well above average for a typical Tuesday but couldn’t quite match the record-setting tune-in eight nights earlier for coverage of the surprising results in the Iowa caucuses (10.16 million).

For Fox News, whose Tuesday coverage was anchored by Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly, last night’s average audience represents the second highest ever for a night of primary coverage, behind only its 4.46 million for the Iowa caucuses.

After finishing second to CNN in the key news demo of adults 25-54 on the night of the Iowa caucuses, FNC moved to the top spot on Tuesday. It averaged about 992,000 viewers in the age group, with CNN a close second (951,000) and MSNBC (494,000) drawing about half the total of its rivals.

CNN reported that CNN Digital’s traffic surpassed last week’s record-setting audience on the day of the Iowa Caucuses, with more than 7 million unique visitors and 15 million page views on CNNPolitics.com. Nearly 3 million unique users engaged on CNN’s mobile app and there were 13 million unique visitors for CNN Digital overall.

Tuesday night proved to be a big one for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, who scored huge victories for their respective parties. Next up on the political front are a Democratic debate on Thursday (PBS) and a Republican debate on Saturday (CBS).




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