Quake Coverage Creates Surge in Viewership for CNN, Fox News; Overall, Cable News Viewing Is Down

Mar 14, 2011  •  Post A Comment

CNN and Fox News saw huge jumps in viewers and online visitors as people sought out coverage of the earthquake that has devastated parts of Japan, reports the Los Angeles Times’ ShowTracker blog.

The story says CNN’s viewer numbers jumped by 172% between 10:12 p.m. and midnight Los Angeles time on Thursday, March 10, when news of the 8.9 earthquake was first coming out. The network was watched by an average of 767,000 people during that period, compared with an average of 281,000 at that time in recent months, the story says.

Fox News’ audience jumped 46% to 671,000 viewers during the same period on Thursday night, the report adds.

A separate report reveals that all three top cable news channels–CNN, MSNBC and Fox News–lost viewers in 2010, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The story cites the Project for Excellence in Journalism’s annual ‘State of the News Media’ report.

Cable news viewership for CNN, MSNBC and Fox news dropped 13.7% in aggregate, marking a sharper decline than any other area, the story notes. Broadcast news was down 3.4% in 2010.

CNN lost 37% of its viewers, while Fox News, the No. 1 cable news network, declined 11%. MSNBC lost 5% of its viewers, the story notes.

"What [the audience erosion] suggests is that we may have reached a peak in cable news viewership," said Amy Mitchell, deputy director for the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

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