The late-breaking verdict in the George Zimmerman trial proved to be a ratings boon for the cable networks, with a combined 10.6 million total viewers tuning in across CNN, Fox News Channel, HLN and MSNBC in the 10 p.m. ET hour, when the verdict came down.
CNN drew first place in the key 25-54 news demographic, drawing 1.716 million viewers in the demo, beating out second-place Fox News (which drew 1.113 in the demo) and fourth-place MSNBC (which had 510,000 in the demo) combined. HLN was third in the demo with 980,000 viewers.
In total viewers, though, Fox won the hour, grabbing 3.682 million total viewers, while CNN — which provided heavy coverage throughout the proceedings — took a close second place with 3.407 million. HLN was third with 2.203 million, while MSNBC drew fourth place with 1.298 million.
All four networks saw considerable viewership boosts compared to the hour preceding the trial. In the 9 p.m. hour, CNN averaged 682,000 total viewers, while HLN had 674,000, Fox News had 446,000 and MSNBC drew 205,000.