CNN’s standard primetime lineup regularly struggles to attract anywhere near as many viewers as Fox News Channel and MSNBC, who have won the evening with their more fiery and opinionated news coverage.But as Tuesday night’s dramatic rescue of the Chilean miners who had been trapped underground for more than two months illustrated, CNN can still command big ratings when a massive international news event is breaking.
For the first time in what seems like a very long time, CNN did not finish in last place last night among its cable news competitors.
The network, which was the only one to air continuous coverage of the rescue operation, averaged about 1.95 million total viewers last night between 8 and 11 p.m., beating MSNBC, which had about 1.02 million total viewers, but still falling short of Fox News Channel, which, as usual, finished first, with about 3.2 million total viewers, according to Nielsen. MSNBC switched to continuous coverage in the 10 p.m. hour. Fox News Channel ran continuous split screen coverage with live cut-ins from Shephard Smith until 10 p.m.
During the 11 p.m. hour, when the first miner was brought to the surface, CNN came out on top, with 3.99 million viewers to Fox New Channel’s 3.47 and MSNBC’s 1.08 million.
For some perspective, the previous night, CNN clocked its worst primetime ratings in 10 years, attracting just 327,000 total viewers on average thanks to dismal performances from “Larry King Live” and its newest show, “Parker Spitzer.” (Anderson Cooper’s mine coverage ran in place of “Parker Spitzer” last night at 8 p.m.)
It may only be a minor victory (or a “miner” one, as Mediaite’s Steve Krakauer cleverly suggests), but it’s one CNN is undoubtedly feeling good about right now given its ongoing ratings woes.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.