6.2 Million Watch South Carolina Primary Coverage on Cable News

By Chris Ariens 

More ratings records are being set for coverage of the 2016 election. With Democrats in Nevada caucusing and GOP voters in South Carolina going to the polls, the cable news channels were live with election returns for much of Saturday.

According to Nielsen Fast National data, more than 6.2 million tuned in on FNC, CNN and MSNBC for South Carolina primary coverage, with Fox News taking the biggest audience share in both viewers and the A25-54 demo. With coverage anchored by Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier the network averaged 3.3 million total viewers between 7-10 p.m. ET — the most-ever for a South Carolina primary night.

  • 7-10 p.m. ET | Total Viewers / A25-54 demo
    FNC: 3,295,000/ 588,000
    CNN: 1,892,000 / 567,000
    MSNBC: 1,095,000 / 243,000

In the late afternoon hours, when the results from Nevada were coming in, FNC was again most-watched in viewers while CNN took the demo

  • 3-6 p.m. ET | Total Viewers / A25-54 demo
    FNC: 1,591,000 / 225,000
    CNN: 1,099,000 / 297,000
    MSNBC: 735,000 / 140,000

For full day coverage, which included Justice Scalia’s funeral at midday, Fox News took total viewers and CNN won the A25-54 demo.

  • Total Day (2am-2am) | Total Viewers / A25-54 demo
    FNC: 1,959,000 / 362,000
    CNN: 1,240,000 / 379,000
    MSNBC: 718,000 / 172,000

While still very impressive, especially for a Saturday night, the totals for South Carolina and Nevada were down from the first two contests in Iowa in New Hampshire earlier this month. The Iowa caucus drew a record 10.2 million viewers to FNC, CNN and MSNBC. A week later, 8.5 million tuned in for New Hampshire primary coverage.

The next vote comes Tuesday as GOP voters in Nevada caucus. Next Saturday, South Carolina Democrats go to the polls.