CNN beat MSNBC for the first time since last summer and narrowed the gap with Fox News in March as it focused heavily on the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
CNN even finished first in one category, weekend primetime. In the key 25-to-54 demographic, CNN was No. 2 in weekday primetime and total day viewing. It was also second in total viewers and the key demo for total day measurement.
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Despite the primetime gains, it was down overall for the first three months of this year compared to the first quarter of 2013. In weekday primetime, it dipped 19 percent in total viewers and 10 percent in the demo.
But at least it ended the quarter strong. CNN had the largest year-over-year growth of the cable news networks in primetime for March, and topped MSNBC in primetime for 18 straight days. That was its longest streak of beating MSNBC in six years.
From February to March, CNN greatly narrowed the gap with the leading Fox News. In February, Fox averaged 225,000 total day viewers to CNN’s 97,000 — a difference of 128,000. In March, Fox had 236,000 to CNN’s 164,000 total day viewers — a difference of 72,000.
In February primetime, Fox averaged 317,000 to CNN’s 136,000 — a difference of 181,000. In March, Fox averaged 309,000 primetime viewers to CNN’s 231,000 — a difference of 78,000.
During the month, “Anderson Cooper 360” topped “The O’Reilly Factor” for three consecutive days at 8 p.m. (from March 12 through 14), while “Erin Burnett Outfront” topped Fox News at 7 p.m. for four consecutive weekdays (March 13 through 18). CNN’s “New Day” is continuing its winning streak over “Morning Joe.” It has beaten “Joe” 12 days in a row.