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Cable Technology Feature Article

May 22, 2013

Moore, Okla. Twister Drives Cable News Spike

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

The tornado that caused so much destruction to Moore, Okla., quickly became the focus of national attention as it happened, and as word got out by social media and the Internet. But citizens turned to cable news as well. According to MediaBistro, ratings for news networks and the Weather Channel began to grow in the 4 p.m. ET hour, before spiking in the 5 p.m. hour as the severity of the storm became apparent.

FOX News garnered the most viewers out of the news herd, logging 1.69 million viewers at 4 p.m., and 2.39 million viewers at 5 p.m. The Weather Channel also proved a favorite source, with 925,000 viewers at 4 p.m. and 1.273 million at 5 p.m.

CNN clocked in at 645,000 viewers at 4 p.m. and 1.022 million viewers at 5 p.m., while MSNBC saw 433,000 viewers at 4 p.m. and 709,000 viewers at 5 p.m.

MediaBistro noted that in primetime, with special schedules, the numbers were even higher, as people who came home from work tuned in. FOX again dominated with 2.603 million viewers, followed by CNN (1.882 million), the Weather Channel (1.245 million viewers) and MSNBC (926,000 viewers).  

To put that in perspective, Nielsen estimates that FOX News averaged 1.97 million viewers in primetime for April, placing it third among all cable networks and up 9 percent year-over-year. CNN came in with 900,000 average viewers per night (a 79-percent jump from April 2012) and MSNBC actually dropped 9 percent to 666,000.

April, too, saw a major news event drive ratings for the news nets, with peak viewing occurring at 8 p.m. ET on Friday, April 19, during the manhunt for the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings. FOX News (7.63 million) and CNN (6.78 million) alone counted for a combined 14.4 million viewers.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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