Cable news audience grew for pope funeral

April 12, 2005|By David Zurawik

The early-morning audience for the funeral of Pope John Paul II Friday was three times as large as that of regularly scheduled programming on the all-news cable channels, according to preliminary figures from Nielsen Media Research. But the overall size of the audience for the much-talked-about event won't be known for at least another day, according to Nielsen and network spokesmen.

From 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. Friday, Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC were collectively seen by an average of more than 2 million viewers each hour. At 7 a.m., the aggregate audience for the three all-news cable channels peaked at 2.64 million viewers. Normally, that audience would be about 850,000.

Individually, the breakout was: Fox, 1.382 million viewers, CNN, 972,000, and MSNBC, 286,000.

The audiences for ABC, NBC and CBS are expected to be much larger. But those figures were not available yesterday because the networks were not yet allowing Nielsen to release them. Since the networks and cable channels pay for the ratings, they have the power to decide if and when Nielsen can release the data.

- David Zurawik

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