April was a big month for breaking news, and that meant strong ratings for CNN.
Fox News led the pack as usual. It was the second most watched network in all of cable, drawing 2.02 million total viewers in primetime and 389,000 in the key 25-54 demo. Overall, the network was up nine percent in total viewers and down two percent in adults 25-54.
The bigger story, however, was CNN, which pulled ahead of MSNBC for the number two spot for the first time in months. April was full of big news stories — from the Boston marathon bombings to the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas — and the ratings proved that breaking news is still the network's bread and butter.
CNN drew 920,000 total viewers in primetime, including 340,000 viewers ages 25-54. In total day, 638,000 total viewers tuned in, and 228,000 viewers ages 25-54. CNN topped its rivals for coverage of the manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev — the second suspect in the Boston marathon bombings — and his capture was the network's most-watched night in a decade, besides political coverage.
CNN also posted a 79 percent increase in total viewers compared to April 2012, which was an especially dismal period for the network. At the time, the month was CNN's lowest-rated month in daytime in over a decade and its worst month in primetime since August 2010. The question remains, though, whether the network can boost ratings when the news cycle is slower.
Despite the newsy month, MSNBC lost total viewers compared to April 2012. It was down 10 percent from 754,000 total viewers in primetime last year, and down one percent in adults 25-54. A bright spot for the network, however, was that it saw growth during the dayside. It was up in total viewers and the key demo for every hour between 9 am and 2 pm.