Ratings: CNN Gains in April as Fox Wins Again, Is Among Top Cable Networks Overall

MSNBC slides to fourth place behind HLN in key news demo

CNN's ratings dramatically improved in April, but Fox was so dominant among cable news stations that it cracked the Top 3 among all cable networks in total viewers. HLN, meanwhile, knocked MSNBC out of third place for the month.

In a busy news month that included the Boston marathon bombings and the deadly explosion in West Texas, CNN had a 79 percent boost in total viewership, averaging 638,000 total-day viewers, compared to last April's 356,000. In the key 25-54 news demographic, the network climbed 109 percent with a total-day average of 228,000.

One reason for CNN's boosts is that it was so far down this time last year: April 2012 was its worst month since August 2001 in both the key demo and total viewers.

Fox remained far ahead of its cable news rivals. It averaged 1.233 million total viewers, a 14 percent boost over last April, and 278,000 viewers in the key demo, a modest gain over a year ago.

In April, the network ranked second in total viewers only to USA Network in primetime cable. CNN was 17th and MSNBC 27th. In total-day numbers, Fox ranked third in all of cable, compared to 13th for CNN and 28th for MSNBC.

Fox swept the top 13 cable news programs in total viewers, with "The O'Reilly Factor," "Hannity," "Special Report with Bret Baier," "The Five" and "The Fox Report with Shepard Smith" comprising the five most-watched cable news shows.

CNN also had some good news about several of its shows this past month. The network's new 4 p.m. show, "The Lead With Jake Tapper," grew 108 percent in the key demo and 54 percent in total viewers over the ratings for the 4 p.m. hour of "The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer," which was airing in the timeslot last April. "The Lead" averaged 258,000 viewers in the demo and 829,000 total viewers throughout the month.

"Erin Burnett OutFront," "Anderson Cooper 360," "Piers Morgan Live" and "The Situation Room" also grew triple digits in the demo and total viewers. "The Situation Room," in its 6 p.m. timeslot, showed the most dramatic growth of any show on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, jumping 224 percent in the demo and 124 percent in total viewers, while "OutFront" grew the most in total viewers, jumping 145 percent to 1.004 million.

MSNBC was the only cable news network to decline in April, dropping 4 percent in total viewers compared to a year ago with an average 407,000 and remaining steady in the key demo with 139,000 viewers aged 25-54 in total-day numbers. That put the network in fourth place in the demo behind CNN sister station HLN, which averaged 142,000 viewers in the demo, a 43 percent jump over last April. (MSNBC retained third place in total viewers, compared to HLN's total-day average of 390,000 for the month.)