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Millions Turned to TV News for Boston Bombing Coverage -- With One Program Pulling In the Largest Audience by Far NY Times

Fox News and CNN saw big increases in their audience size Monday, as viewers turned to cable news networks for coverage of the Boston Marathon bomb attack, reports Bill Carter in The New York Times.

More than 3 million viewers tuned in to CNN and more than 4 million watched Fox News, with interest in the coverage helping to give Piers Morgan's show on CNN the largest audience in its two-year history, the story says.

But the biggest audience was for a special report that aired at 10 p.m. on NBC, with 8.8 million viewers tuning in. As previously reported, NBC pre-empted "Revolution" to air a special news report with Brian Williams.

Of those 8.8 million viewers, 3.8 million were in the 18-49 age group, the story adds.

“On CNN, the audience grew from 438,000 viewers for its 2 p.m. show to 970,000 for its 3 p.m. hour, then 2.4 million at 4 p.m. and more than 3 million for the 5 p.m. hour,” the piece reports. “The network fared especially well among the viewers who matter most to cable news networks, adults between the ages of 25 and 54. Anderson Cooper’s hour at 8 p.m. scored the best numbers of the night in that category.”

Fox News saw its audience rise from more than 900,000 at 3 p.m. to more than 4 million by 6 p.m., with Bill O’Reilly’s 8 p.m. hour hitting 4.8 million.

“After Mr. O’Reilly’s program, the next biggest audience -- 4 million -- tuned in to Sean Hannity at 9 p.m. The totals in the 25-to-54 category were 1.26 million viewers for Mr. O’Reilly and 1.303 million for Mr. Hannity,” the article reports. “CNN had slightly higher figures in those hours among the 25-to-54 group. Mr. Cooper at 8 p.m. had the biggest audience, with 1.373 million viewers in that group (2.9 million overall). Piers Morgan had 1.312 million viewers in the 25-to-54 group (2.6 million overall).”

MSNBC was a distant third among the cable news nets, with Rachel Maddow’s 9 p.m. show leading the way for the network with 1.5 million total viewers and 557,000 viewers 25-54.