Fox News Channel on Tuesday eclipsed its competitors with its coverage of the Massachusetts special election, averaging 6.16 million viewers in prime time, 1.9 million of whom were members of the core news demo.
While the outcome was evident before the polls closed at 8 p.m., FNC had no trouble retaining its audience. At 9 p.m., when the race was called for Republican Scott Brown, FNC averaged 6.81 million viewers and 2.13 million adults 25-54, per Nielsen ratings data.
FNC’s Tuesday night deliveries were its highest since the Nov. 4, 2008 Presidential election, when the network averaged 9.03 million total viewers.
CNN on the night averaged 1.5 million viewers and 483,000 adults 25-54, while MSNBC’s live coverage from Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood drew 1.14 million viewers/387,000 25-54s. When Brown was declared the winner, some 1.68 million viewers/507,000 25-54s were tuned in to CNN; at the same time, MSNBC averaged 1.24 million viewers/422,000 members of the demo.
Having secured 52 percent of the vote, Brown upset Democratic Party nominee and Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley in the race to fill the Senate seat left vacant by the death of Senator Edward Kennedy.
A week before the Jan. 19 election, Coakley was the presumptive shoe-in, given the Commonwealth’s Blue State status and the long shadow cast by the late Sen. Kennedy. But a late surge by Brown made the exercise all but academic by Tuesday morning, which in turn had a dampening effect on voter turnout.