The first to call for Newt Gingrich in South Carolina on Saturday night, Fox News Channel made it three for three with cable news viewers relative to its GOP presidential primary coverage.
Fox News Channel averaged 2.63 million viewers between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Jan. 22 more than competitors CNN (1.21 million watchers) and MSNBC (985,000) combined, according to preliminary Nielsen data.
The segment leader also surpassed its rivals with the target demo, averaging 703,000 25-to-54 viewers, compared with 417,000 and 240,000 for CNN and MSNBC, respectively. (FNC aired a special hosted by Geraldo Rivera in the 10 p.m. hour on Jan. 21.)
Measured against its South Carolina primary coverage from 2008, FNC almost doubled its audience, recording a 96% advance from 1.34 million viewers, and posted a 100% gain in the demo from 352,000 of those watchers.
Saturday night's delivery with the so-called news demo was FNC's best of this election cycle to date, outpacing the 550,000 adults 25 to 54 it claimed during its Jan. 10 primetime coverage of the New Hampshire results and the 684,000 for the Iowa Caucuses the week before.
Back on Jan. 10 with the New Hampshire primary, FNC tallied 2.25 million viewers on average in primetime, versus 1.1 million for CNN and 1.06 million for MSNBC.
During the Jan. 3 nailbiter in Iowa, where Mitch Romney didn't nip Rich Santorum until about 2:30 a.m., FNC pulled in 2.63 million viewers, including the aforementioned 684,000 adults 25 to 54, in primetime and 1.82 million watchers and 635,000 in the demo from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m.
For its part, CNN notched 1.31 million watchers in primetime and 839,000 in the following four-hour span, with demo counts of 486,000 and 349,000 in those periods.
MSNBC, meanwhile, registered 1.2 million total viewers in primetime and 303,000 of the target audience on Jan. 3, and scored with 693,000 watchers, including 228,000 adults 25 to 54, in the expanded late-night period.