Fox News Wins The George Zimmerman Verdict Ratings Battle

George ZimmermanGeorge Zimmerman is greeted by defence counsel Don West at the start of his trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Florida, July 8, 2013.

Almost 11 million people tuned into cable news on Saturday night to witness the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, when he was found not guilty in the 2012 death of teenager Trayvon Martin. 

Fox News was the winner in the late-night coverage and in the hour the verdict was read (10-11 p.m. ET), hitting a high of 3.7 million total viewers in that hour. Fox News averaged 2.7 million viewers through the three-hour period of live coverage from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. ET, according to Nielsen.

CNN also scored in the airing of the verdict, hitting a high of 3.4 million total viewers — including more than 1.7 million in the key age 25-54 demographic. (In 2013, CNN has normally led the pack in 25-54 viewers in the 10 p.m.-1 a.m. timeslot.) CNN was boosted from an exclusive interview with the brother of George Zimmerman. 

MSNBC — which, like CNN, adopted a wall-to-wall coverage strategy of the trial for which both were sometimes criticised — only grabbed 1.3 million total viewers in the 10-11 p.m. hour, including just more than 500,000 in the 25-54 demographic. 

Here are the 10-11 p.m. ratings, per Nielsen: 


FNC: 3,682,000 total viewers (1,113,000 in 25-54)

CNN: 3,407,000 total viewers (1,716,000 in 25-54)

MSNBC: 1,298,000 total viewers (510,000 in 25-54)

HLN: 2,203,000 total viewers (980,000 in 25-54)

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