Jodi Arias Verdict Delivers Big Ratings on Cable, But Not Casey Anthony-Sized

By Alex Weprin 

The verdict in the Jodi Arias trial delivered enormous ratings for all of cable news yesterday afternoon, with almost seven million people watching live on Fox News, HLN, CNN and MSNBC.

Fox News led the way in total viewers, drawing 2.79 million viewers at 4pmET, and 2.94 million people at 5pm. HLN was second with 2.20 million viewers at 4pm and 1.58 million at 5pm. CNN drew 1.52 and 1.38 million viewers in those hours, and MSNBC averaged 395,000 and 703,000 viewers.

In the key adults 25-54 demo at 4pm, HLN was number one with 646,000 viewers, followed by CNN with 522,000 viewers and Fox News with 457,000 viewers. MSNBC drew 106,000 adults 25-54 at 4pm. The verdict was read at 4:49pmET.

HLN’s ratings were surprisingly low, given that the verdict was the culmination of a long trial, often propelling the channel above its cable news competitors during some hours and days. HLN also became part of the story, when correspondent Jean Casarez testified about something she saw outside the courthouse.

For comparison, the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial in July 2011 was watched by 4.575 million people on HLN alone in the hour it happened, peaking at 5.205 million viewers.

Earlier in the day a pair of stories dominated the news, with updates on the Cleveland kidnapping, and the hearing into what happened in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012.

At 11amET, as the Benghazi hearing began and Amanda Berry returned home in Cleveland, Fox News led the way in total viewers with 1.82 million, compared to 1.23 million for CNN and 288,000 for MSNBC. CNN was tops in the demo with 404,000, compared to 357,000 for FNC and 77,000 for MSNBC.

At NoonET, as all of the channels began to cover the hearings, FNC’s ratings exploded, growing to 2.34 million total viewers and 412,000 demo viewers. CNN’s ratings fell to a still respectable 703,000 total viewers and 251,000 demo viewers, while MSNBC drew 318,000 total viewers and 68,000 demo viewers. Both CNN and Fox News were up slightly in the 1pm hour, as Benghazi coverage continued.

In primetime, every channel saw higher than typical primetime ratings, with Fox News leading the way in total viewers, “AC360” leading in the demo, and HLN’s lineup competitive in the demo every hour.