Brian Williams’ TV Return, Pope Francis Arrival Draw Big Ratings for MSNBC

Key demo of 25-54 is up 52 percent from September 2014 averages

Last Updated: September 23, 2015 @ 5:46 PM

Brian Williams‘ first day back on the air since his suspension from NBC, along with the arrival of Pope Francis in the United States, helped propel MSNBC to big ratings gains on Tuesday.

The special coverage anchored by the former “Nightly News” host, which aired live from 3 – 5 p.m. ET, averaged 526,000 total viewers and 76,000 in the network’s key 25-54 demo.

The numbers were a 76 percent increase in total viewers from September 2014, with the 25-54 demo up 52 percent from a year ago.

The cable news network still came in third to Fox News Channel, which was No. 1 in total viewers with 1.2 million and had 203,000 in the 25-54 demo.

CNN finished first in the demo with 216,000 and had 920,000 total viewers.

In February, Williams was suspended for six months without pay from his gig as managing editor and anchor of NBC’s “Nightly News.” He was replaced on air by Lester Holt.