GOP Debate Propels CNN to Strong October

The lone network with an October debate posts year-over-year gains, while MSNBC and Fox News ratings fall

CNN, say thank you to the GOP.

As the only cable news network with a debate in this Nielsen month, CNN posted year-over-year gains in its primetime ratings for October while its rivals saw their numbers dip.

The debate, which averaged 5.5 million viewers, propelled CNN to second in the adults 25-54 demo during prime time (201,000 viewers to MSNBC’s 190,000), though MSNBC still beat its rival in total viewers (688,000 to 636,000).

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CNN’s ratings increased by 25 percent as compared to last year, though that increase drops to 5 percent if one leaves out the debate. Fox’s prime time ratings are down 28 percent year-over-year while MSNBC's are down 25 percent. Some of that may be attributed to strong ratings from the Chilean Miner story and the lead-up to last year’s mid-term elections.

That would seem to make CNN's numbers all the more impressive, though the network's  detractors will say that CNN only had room to grow – last year’s ratings were especially soft.

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Fox News remained head and shoulders above the competition, claiming the top 10 shows during prime time in the demo and the top 13 in total viewers. Fox also finished fourth in all of cable, while both MSNBC and CNN ended outside the top 25.

As for specific shows, the competition is heating up at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., where MSNBC recently flipped its "Ed Show" and "Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell."

Anderson Cooper beat “Ed” and “Last Word” in the demo, but the MSNBC shows won in total viewers. They also took the demo after the switch, but November will reveal the true effects of the change.