What a difference four years makes. In 2008, Fox News finished a distant second to CNN during the Super Tuesday primary coverage. Last week Fox climbed to first place and nearly doubled the audience of second-place CNN.
Fox averaged a little more than 2.8 million viewers from 8-11 p.m., while CNN averaged just under 1.5 million and MSNBC fell just short of 1.4 million.
Not only did Fox nearly double the size of CNN’s audience, it almost outdrew both CNN and MSNBC combined.
Fox also easily outdrew both CNN and MSNBC in the key A25-54 demo with 730,000 viewers, compared to CNN’s 512,000 and MSNBC’s 381,000.
Overall viewership was down sharply from 2008 when both parties had contested primaries and when there was particular interest in the battle between then-Sens. Obama and Clinton.
Without a contested Democratic primary CNN suffered the most, losing 60% of its overall audience and 68% of the demo compared to 2008, with MSNBC shedding 33% and 57% of its audience respectively.
Fox suffered the smallest loss at 5% and 12%, which was probably due to the hotly contested GOP primary keeping more of its viewers interested and expecting a more evenhanded analysis of the results than they would find at the more liberal CNN and MSNBC.
All of the networks benefited ratings-wise from their election coverage when compared to their normal programming, but none more than CNN, which more than doubled its viewership as a result. Perhaps that is also an indication of just how weak their primetime lineup really is.