News Nets Spar Over Pope Ratings


Who won cable’s pontiff watch this past weekend?

Both Fox News Channel and Cable News Network are claiming Nielsen Media Research victories for their coverage of the death of Pope John Paul II.

From 2:55 p.m.-4:05 p.m. (EST) April 2 -- the period immediately following the Pope’s passing -- Fox News averaged 2.55 million viewers to CNN’s 2.25 million, according to Nielsen Media Research data. MSNBC averaged 944,000 over that span.

Among adults 25-54, Fox News was on top with 951,000 versus 685,000 and 412,000 of those watchers, respectively, for CNN and MSNBC in the aforementioned period.

On a total-day basis from 3 a.m. April 2-3 a.m. April 3, Fox News averaged 1.29 million viewers and 460,000 25-54 watchers, versus 1.13 million total viewers and 399,000 among the demo for CNN and 592,000 and 272,000, respectively, for MSNBC.

The following day (3 a.m.-3 a.m. April 4), Fox News averaged 619,000 total viewers, compared with 601,000 for CNN and 273,000 for MSNBC.

For its part, CNN cited Nielsen data that gave it the edge in Saturday and Sunday primetime. Among viewers, CNN pulled in 983,000 viewers on average to its coverage of the Pope’s death and legacy April 2, which topped Fox News’ 828,000 and 432,000 for MSNBC. On Sunday night, CNN averaged 987,000 watchers, versus 743,000 and 371,000 for Fox News and MSNBC, respectively.

Among the 25-54 set, CNN counted 316,000 watchers, versus 293,000 and 200,000 in primetime on Saturday, respectively, for Fox News and MSNBC, according to Nielsen data. On Sunday, the primetime 25-54 scorecard read 316,000 for CNN, 192,000 for Fox News and 115,000 for MSNBC.

CNN also set the pace in primetime on those days among adults 18 -34 and 18-49, according to Nielsen data.