I'm proud of CNN for the first time in years. Last week, CNN primetime coverage of breaking news in the Middle East and in Japan earned them more than 1,362,000 viewers (they still lag behind Fox News by almost 800,000 viewers). But they beat Fox News in 18-49s and 18-34s and were only 35,000 viewers behind them in the most important category, 25-54 year olds. They also reached more than 1 million homes (not viewers) in primetime. They soundly trounced MSNBC in all categories. Headline News gained viewers, but was still far down the list.
In total day, CNN again averaged more than a million viewers, still almost 400,000 fewer than Fox News, but they beat Fox News in all three of the demographic categories, including 25-54s. And they were 8th in reach among all cable networks -- Fox News beat them there, finishing 4th. Once again, CNN finished well ahead of MSNBC in all the categories. As for HLN, some progress, but not enough to dent the big boys.
Last week's news numbers are the most substantial proof I can present that when major news breaks, occasional (non-regular) news viewers still turn to CNN to get the facts. Fox News leads in blather, but when the news gets hot, viewers turn to CNN. I eagerly await this week's ratings, when Japan totally dominates news time, to see if CNN can actually threaten Fox News in total viewers. They probably can't, but I'll predict that, as long as the news stays hot, CNN will be closing in.