Pope’s Departure Doesn’t Drive Viewers To Cable News

By Alex Weprin Comment

The departure of Pope Benedict XVI dominated cable news yesterday, particularly between 10AM-12PM, but it didn’t seem to make a difference in the ratings. The Pope’s formal departure (including the helicopter ride to Castel Gandolfo) took place during the 11AM hour.

Here is how the cable networks stacked up:

Fox News
10AM: 1.319 million total viewers, 182,000 A25-54
11AM: 1.165 million total viewers, 198,000 A25-54

10AM: 365,000 total viewers, 85,000 A25-54
11AM: 468,000 total viewers, 127,000 A25-54

10AM: 317,000 total viewers, 74,000 A25-54
11AM: 338,000 total viewers, 80,000 A25-54

CNN and MSNBC were actually down from February 28, 2012 in those time periods, though that was the day of a number of primary elections, so ratings were slightly inflated. Fox news was up in total viewers and the 10AM demo, but down in the 11 AM demo hour.

Compared to Wednesday, when there was no Papal departure, MSNBC was down in total viewers and the 11AM demo, and flat in the 10AM demo. CNN was down in total viewers and the demo at 10AM, but up in total viewers and down in the demo at 11 AM. Fox News was up slightly in all of the time periods.

In a nutshell: the Pope’s departure didn’t really make a difference on cable news, though the broadcast coverage likely drew many eyeballs that would have otherwise gone higher up the dial.