After news outlets reported that white smoke was (definitely) blowing from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel a few minutes past 2:00 p.m. (EST), cable and broadcast networks awaited the the new pope. The biggest ratings bump of the day came between 2 and 4 p.m.
Fox News beat both MSNBC and CNN in total viewers in both hours. From 2-3 p.m., Fox News brought in 1,901,000 total viewers and 391,000 viewers in the key 25-54 age demographic. CNN followed, bringing in 1,188,000 total viewers and 325,000 viewers in the key demographic. MSNBC trailed with 461,000 total viewers, and 108,000 total viewers in the demo.
During the 3-4 p.m. hour, the networks all experienced a ratings bump. MSNBC brought in 730,000 total viewers and 175,000 viewers in the demo. While Fox News beat CNN in total viewers, CNN beat Fox News in the key demographic. Fox News brought in 2,545,000 total viewers and 495,000 viewers in the key demographic. CNN brought in 1,805,000 total viewers and 513,000 in the key demographic.