CNN topped the key cable news demographic in primetime on Monday night, as unrest and protests in Ferguson gave way to widespread riot coverage.
The Missouri grand jury’s decision to not indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Mike Brown was announced around 9:15 p.m. ET by prosecutor Bob McCulloch. The decision, along with McCulloch’s remarks and a question-and-answer period lasted until about 9:58 p.m. ET.
During the 9 p.m. hour, CNN pulled in 3.155 million viewers ages 25-54. Fox News Channel was in second place with 2.186 million viewers. MSNBC was a distant third, with 742,000.
In total viewers, Fox News won the 60-minute period with 7.256 million. CNN was next with 6.265 million total viewers. MSNBC had 2.197 million total viewers. Those numbers mean a whopping 15.7 million viewers tuned in to those three cable news channels in anticipation of the grand jury’s decision — and that’s not even counting HLN’s somewhat statistically insignificant viewer totals.
President Obama addressed the nation at approximately 10:09 p.m. ET. After Obama’s speech, the total viewer lead shifted from FNC to CNN, where it remained for the late hours.
Still, Fox News Channel topped the technical primetime period averages in total viewers, with 5.563 million. CNN finished shy of that average with 5.079 million. MSNBC was again a distant third, pulling in 1.622 million.
In the key demo, CNN averaged 2.627 million viewers from 8 p.m. – 11 p.m. FNC had 1.653 million, MSNBC settled for 544,000.