March On Washington Anniversary Speech A Mild Cable News Ratings Draw

By Alex Weprin 

Yesterday afternoon, thousands of people descended on the National Mall in Washington DC to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Coverage of the event began at 2 PM (except for MSNBC, which was broadcasting live on the mall beginning at 11 AM). CNN replayed King’s 1953 speech in the 1 PM hour, with MSNBC replaying it at 8 PM. You can see the full ratings scoreboard here.

Presiden Obama spoke in the 3pm hour, around the time the broadcast networks also began coverage on TV. Here is how that hour stacked up on the cable news channels:

  • MSNBC: 928,000 total viewers / 231,000 A25-54
  • CNN: 770,000 total viewers / 246,000 A25-54
  • Fox News: 713,000 total viewers / 150,000 A25-54

For the 2 PM hour, when the festivities and coverage began on all three channels:

MSNBC: 813,000 total viewers / 158,000 A25-54

Fox News: 704,000 total viewers / 173,000 A25-54

CNN: 558,000 total viewers / 178,000 A25-54

Finally, a wildcard. During the 1 PM hour, when CNN replayed Dr. King’s 1963 speech, the channel averaged 523,000 total viewers, including 144,000 A25-54 viewers, pretty much par for the course for that hour. At 8 PM, MSNBC replayed the speech before “All In,” and averaged 947,000 total viewers and 323,000 A25-54. In both cases a substantial improvement in that timeslot over last year, and for the average Chris Hayes’ show has been drawing.