While Its Rivals Feast on Malaysia Airlines Disaster, One of the Big 3 Cable News Channels Fails to Get a Bump

Jul 22, 2014  •  Post A Comment

When news breaks, cable news channels typically see a surge in viewers. But on the first full day of coverage of the shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines jet, one of cable's big three news channels, MSNBC, seems to have missed out.

Deadline.com reports that CNN was up 16% and Fox News Channel rose 13% from comparable year-ago numbers in the key news demo of adults 25-54 for total day on July 18, when the news was dominated by coverage of the Malaysia Airlines disaster along with the breaking story of Israeli troop movement into Gaza. MSNBC, however, was down 38%, pulling a feeble 87,000 in the metric.

"Take a look at prime time, the numbers get even harsher for MSNBC with a 46% fall in the demo to 118,000 from July 19, 2013, compared to a rise of 16% and 30% for FNC and CNN," the report adds. "Winning in all categories on Friday and benefiting from the breaking news, FNC had 268,000 among 25-54s for total day and 323,000 during prime time. Seeing an uptick as it commonly does during breaking news, the often ratings struggling Time Warner-owned network [CNN] got 208,000 in the demo total day and 263,000 in prime time."

The report notes that MSNBC joined its rivals in providing wall-to-wall coverage of the breaking news stories. "The network devoted its entire night to the plane crash and the situation in the Middle East from 'The Ed Show' at 5 p.m. to a guest-hosted 'Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell' at 10 p.m.," Deadline notes.

In total viewers on the same day, July 18, the picture wasn't quite as bleak for MSNBC, although its numbers remained well below those of CNN and Fox News. "MSNBC saw a 3% slip in total day to 427,000 and a mere 2% growth in prime time to 602,000," the story reports. "FNC beat CNN and MSNBC put together among total viewers for both the total day and primetime with 1.473 million (up 16% from a year ago) and 1.905 million (up 21% from a year ago)."

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