Cable News Debate Ratings: Fox Wins Viewers, CNN Takes Demo

Anderson Cooper’s home channel tallies 4.4 million viewers age 25-54

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Fox News Channel won the great debate race last night, at least across cable news.

Ruper Murdoch’s news channel scored the most total viewers (11.4 million) among cable news networks broadcasting Monday’s presidential debate, but CNN topped the key news demo (4.4 million) of adults ages 25-54.

CNN was second in the overall eyeball count with 9.8 million total viewers, while MSNBC picked up 4.9 million. In the main demo, Fox News trailed Anderson Cooper’s network with 3.5 million age-appropriate viewers, while MSNBC landed 1.6 million.

Fox News’ telecast was up 9 percent in viewers and up 20 percent in the demo compared to the first general election presidential debate of the 2012 cycle.

When expanding criteria to include all of the evening’s primetime coverage, Fox News averaged 9 million viewers compared to 7.6 million for CNN and 3.9 million for MSNBC. In the key demo, CNN finished first, averaging 3.4 million viewers compared to 2.7 million for Fox News and 1.2 million for MSNBC. Fox Business Network averaged 673,000 viewers and 141,745 in the demo during the debate.

When viewers wanted post-debate analysis from 10:45 p.m. through 1 a.m. ET, CNN won the total viewer crown with 5.1 million. Fox News finished second with 4.6 million and MSNBC was third with 3.3 million. CNN also won the demo during this time period.

Click here to see how the broadcast networks did, per preliminary numbers. Spoiler alert: Moderator Lester Holt’s home net took down the others. ABC topped CBS in the both broadcast’s key demo — viewers 18-49 — and overall.