When viewer votes were registered Tuesday night at the Republican National Convention, it was a victory for cable led by Fox News Channel.
Fox News Channel set the pace during the 10-11 p.m. hour, when all of the major network news outlets were competing, with some 6.18 million viewers, while NBC was second with 4.47 million and CNN third at 3.22 million, according to Nielsen Media Research data. ABC, CBS and MSNBC recorded 3.09 million, 2.93 million and MSNBC 1.59 million, respectively.
Divided along medium lines, the three cable new networks amassed 10.99 million viewers on average, while the Big 3 scored with 10.49 million on average.
Although the tallies tightened, the Nielsen rankings were the same relative to the news demo of adults 25 to 54. Fox News claimed 2.21 million of those watchers, compared with 1.84 million and 1.31 million for NBC and CNN, respectively. ABC averaged 1.29 million of that group in the 10 p.m. hour, compared with 1.28 million for CBS and 676,000 for MSNBC.
From a growth perspective, CNN scored best among the cable crowd. Measured against the second day of the RNC in 2004 in the 10 p.m. hour, CNN rang up a 108% advance in average viewers from 1.55 million and a 215% jump from 417,000 adult 25-to-54 watchers four years ago. Fox News saw its average viewer base rise 19% from 5.2 million average viewers in the corresponding time in 2004 and 4% from 2.13 million in the news demo. MSNBC's average viewer base dipped 1% from 1.61 million, but its demo count was up 37% from 492,000.
During primetime on Sept. 2, Fox News averaged 5.1 million viewers and 1.61 million adults 25 to 54, more than double the combined count for CNN (2.51 million average viewers/958,000 in the demo) and MSNBC (1.42 million/570,000).