The Boston marathon bombings were a tragedy of national proportions -- but they did have a silver lining for Fox News Channel.
For the week of April 15-April 21, when coverage of the bombings dominated the news, Fox topped not only its news competitors CNN and MSNBC, but the entire cable landscape -- including usually reliable cable-topper USA Network. In all-day coverage for the week, Fox averaged 1.772 million total viewers, putting it ahead of second-place Nickelodeon (which averaged 1.644 million). CNN averaged 1.329 million total viewers for the week, while MSNBC averaged 578,000 viewers for the week.
During primetime for the week, Fox likewise took top honors, averaging 2.874 million total viewers from 8 to 10 p.m. USA drew second place, with an average 2.621 million total viewers. (CNN came in third for primetime with 1.985 million total viewers; MSNBC had an average 923,000.)
This marks the first time that Fox has topped cable -- barring election and political coverage -- since 2005, when Hurricane Katrina coverage pushed the network to the top.
While Fox took the overall prize for the week and scored the big victory with an overall cable win, CNN derived its own bragging rights from the Boston marathon.
The combination of coverage of the Boston marathon bombings and the new series "Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown" gave CNN victories in the key 25-54 news demo on Saturday and Sunday.
On Saturday, CNN averaged 553,000 viewers in the demo for the entire day (measured from 3 .m. to 3 a.m. by CNN), and 441,000 in the 8 to 11 p.m. primetime. That was enough to best Fox News Channel, which averaged 378,000 for the entire day and 307,000 during primetime, and MSNBC, which had a 203,000 total day average in the demo and 211,000 during the primetime hours.
Sunday found CNN once again beating the competition in the key demo, averaging 257,000 viewers 25-54 throughout the day, compared to Fox's 251,000 and MSNBC's 145,000. During Sunday primetime, CNN likewise took top honors in the demo, with 397,000 viewers in the demo, compared to 251,000 at Fox and 227,000 for MSNBC. The second episode of "Parts Unknown" at 9 p.m. went a long way in cementing the network's primetime victory, drawing 470,000 viewers in the demo. That number bested the combined demo performances of Fox and MSNBC for the hour, with Fox averaging 208,000 in the 9 p.m. hour and MSNBC averaging 187,000 viewers in the demo.
In total viewers, "Parts Unknown" grabbed 974,000.