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Jackson Verdict Boosts Cable News, Web Sites

Jun 14, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Michael Jackson’s acquittal Monday on child molestation charges spurred record traffic and requests for streaming video on news Web sites and boosted cable news channel viewership.

According to data from Nielsen Media Research, Fox News Channel was the first choice of TV viewers during the 15 minutes in which the verdict was read. From 5-5:15 p.m., Fox averaged more than 4.8 million viewers, compared with an average of 1.7 million during prime time last week. CNN averaged nearly 3.5 million viewers vs. an average of 695,000 viewers last week. MSNBC averaged more than 1.4 million viewers, compared with 350,000 viewers in prime time last week.

Court TV said it attracted its largest audience ever, 3.4 million viewers, during the same quarter-hour, vs. 886,000 prime-time viewers last week.

Nielsen said coverage on 11 English-language broadcast and cable networks averaged upward of 28.1 million viewers from 4:43-6 p.m. (ET), while Jackson coverage on Spanish-language Telemundo and Univision averaged nearly 2.5 million viewers from4:48-5:30 p.m.

By way of limited comparison, Nielsen archives show that an average of 33.3 million people watched Princess Diana’s funeral on eight American networks in 1997 and 22.5 million watched then-President Clinton apologize for having not been straightforward on the subject of Monica Lewinsky in 1998.

Foxnews.com had its biggest day ever, said a spokesman, adding that the site had a record 15,005,497 page views for the day. More than 3 million of those fell between 4 and 5 p.m., when people were waiting for the verdict to be read.

Foxnews.com also reported 423,000 requests for video, some 250,000 of them for Jackson coverage.

More than 630,000 streams of the Jackson verdict were watched on MSNBC.com, making it the most-watched verdict video in the Web site’s history, according to a spokeswoman. In comparison, the conviction of Scott Peterson in the murder of his wife and unborn child produced 245,317 requests for video and the coverage of Pope John Paul II’s funeral generated nearly 2 million requests, MSNBC.com’s biggest streaming day ever.

Courttv.com logged more than 4.7 million page views Monday, a 148 percent increase over the previous Monday.