MSNBC loses competition for Libya ratings, Fox News wins

Joe Pompeo

MSNBC finished in third place in the ratings among the cable-news networks on Sunday, when viewers began to tune in seeking live coverage of the unfolding battle in Tripoli, Libya's capital city.

As we reported yesterday, MSNBC was conspicuously late to the party when its cable news competitors had for hours already been covering the story. (MSNBC stayed with its usual weekend documentary fare.)

MSNBC, which didn't go live with its Libya coverage until around 8 p.m. Eastern time, finished with 308,000 total viewers during the 6 p.m. to midnight time slot when coverage of the fighting was at its peak. Fox News finished first with 950,000 viewers, and CNN had 701,000, according to data from the Nielsen Company.

CNN's second-place finish is notable because the network, perennially third in prime time, usually soars to the top of the ratings when there's big, breaking international news. Fox News likewise finished first in average total viewers for the day--it began its Libya coverage at 6 a.m. and had gone wall-to-wall by 4 p.m.--with 786,000 viewers to CNN's 477,000 and MSNBC's 298,000.

CNN did, however, finish first among the advertiser-preferred demographic of 25- to 54-year-old adults from 6 p.m. to midnight, logging 246,000 such viewers to Fox News Channel's 194,000 and MSNBC's 97,000.