Fox News Wins Cable News Ratings War Amid Iowa Caucus and Ensuing Chaos

Millions tuned into cable news Monday night for caucus results (but didn’t actually get any)

Millions tuned into cable news Monday night for caucus results and ended up getting reports that, well, there were no caucus results. Of those millions, the majority tuned into Fox News, though CNN remained particularly competitive in the advertiser-coveted age demographic of 25-54.

From 8 p.m. ET to 11 p.m. ET, when results from the first-in-the-nation electoral contest were expected to come in, 4.249 million viewers put Fox News on the television, according to early Nielsen ratings. Of those, 793,000 were in that special 25-54 demo.

MSNBC brought in the second-highest number of total average viewers for primetime, with 2.530 million. The network had the lowest number of viewers in the 25-54 demo, however, with 612,000. CNN saw the lowest number of total average viewers, bringing in 1.764 million, but took second place in the demo with 702,000 viewers between 25-54.

Fox News brought in the most total average viewers each hour from 6 p.m. ET onward, but CNN finished strong, winning the demo from 12 a.m. ET to 1 a.m. ET going into Tuesday morning. Interestingly, 509,000 viewers between the ages of 25-54 were burning the midnight oil with CNN’s special coverage team. At that same time, Fox News had 485,000 viewers in the demo and MSNBC had 448,000.

Looking outside of primetime, Fox News won the total day, too: From 6 p.m. ET to 12:30 a.m. ET, Fox News saw 3.369 million total average viewers, with 656,000 in the demo. MSNBC had 2.114 million total average viewers, taking second place, again, and 506,000 in the demo, taking third place there, again. CNN also kept with the pattern of taking third in average total viewers and second in the demo: The network had 1.492 million viewers from 6 p.m. ET to 12:30 a.m. ET, of whom 591,000 were between 25-54.

With all those millions of people and hundreds of thousands of viewers in the demo, you might be wondering what they were watching, anyway. The 2020 Democratic primary started with a dramatic turn Monday night as the Iowa Democratic Party, citing “inconsistencies,” delayed announcement of its caucus’ final results until Tuesday, prompting mass speculation from cable news channels as the candidates vowed to press on to the next contest in New Hampshire.

In other words, the well-scheduled coverage plans we reported for each of the networks earlier today were totally blown up and viewers watched as anchors, correspondents and analysts first relayed the news that there would be no results, then began speculating about why there would be no results. Eventually, the networks yielded airtime to the candidates, who addressed voters and vowed to press on and start focusing on next week’s New Hampshire primary regardless of the mysterious results from Iowa.

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