The tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday that took the lives of 20 schoolchildren, plus eight adults, helped power CNN to a rare ratings victory that day.
CNN, which has been badly lagging both Fox News and MSNBC, saw viewers in the key A25-54 demographic turn their attention to the network as the story unfolded, once again underscoring the public’s preference to turn to CNN when there is a major, breaking news story.
The victory for CNN was complete, with the network winning every hour in the demo from 5 p.m. through midnight, and doing so convincingly, with Anderson Cooper beating ratings champ The O”Reilly Factor by 212,000 viewers in the 8 p.m. hour and swamping Greta Van Susteren in the 10 p.m. hour by 411,000.
While CNN beat Fox News by a fairly substantial margin, it completely obliterated MSNBC by 600,000-700,000 viewers in primetime, giving the liberal network its lowest ratings in more than a year.
But CNN shouldn’t get too excited by this ratings spike. Undoubtedly it will slip back to third place as the stories related to the tragedy start to fade, once again exposing the weak lineup that continues to plague the network.