Mitt Romney's razor-thin victory over Rick Santorum in the Iowa Caucuses Tuesday kept the cable news networks in live coverage through 3 a.m. and drove ratings for CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC.
Fox News easily beat out the other networks in viewership, averaging 2.63 million total viewers and 684,000 adults 25 to 54 in primetime, according to Nielsen fast nationals. CNN was second with 1.31 million total viewers and 486,000 adults 25 to 54 and MSNBC posted 1.2 million total viewers and 303,000 in the target demo.
From 11 p.m.-3 a.m. -- Romney's victory was announced around 2:30 a.m. (ET) -- the finish was largely the same, with FNC topping with 1.82 million total viewers and 645,000 in the demo. CNN tallied 839,000 total viewers and 347,000 in the demo, while MSNBC scored with 693,000 and 228,000, respectively.
CNN, which routinely sees its ratings benefit from breaking news events, saw the most improvement over its regular primetime lineup, up 142% in total viewers compared to the prior four Tuesdays and 220% in the 25-54 demo.