10/22/2010 01:47 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

A Chile Wind Blows CNN Some Good

It's an ill wind that blows no good on someone, and last week CNN was the chief beneficiary. The Chile wind moved CNN into second place in the cable news ratings, behind only Fox News. For the first time in months CNN beat MSNBC in all important demographic categories, thanks to its coverage of the miners' rescue in Chile.

The mine disaster didn't start out well for CNN -- the cable network missed out on live coverage of the first miner recovery because it was carrying the Parker Spitzer show at 8pm. It didn't help much when Spitzer assumed the anchor role on later rescues, because he still lacks news credibility.

However, during the twenty-four hour period, as the miners kept emerging from the earth, CNN's coverage was timely and competent, and occasional news viewers (those who turn to news only on big occasions) came back to CNN in greater numbers than any of its rivals.

Week to week, on a total day basis, CNN gained 283,000 more viewers than the week before. Fox News had 142,000 viewers while MSNBC numbers barely moved, merely 11,000 more viewers week to week. CNN triumphed again in households, picking up 225,000 more homes while Fox News gained 117,000 homes and MSNBC 13,000. It appears that MSNBC has little credibility as a breaking news source, and nonpartisan viewers still regard CNN as the most reliable news source.

Given that during the Chile wind period CNN gained more viewers than its two rivals combined, I would humbly suggest to my successors that they abandon talking about the news and start showing more of it.