The funeral of pop legend Whitney Houston drew over nine million viewers to cable news at its peak Saturday, with most of those viewers tuning into CNN. CNN drew more total viewers and more adults 25-54 than Fox News, MSNBC and HLN combined.
From 12-4PM, the hours during which the funeral aired, CNN averaged nearly five million total viewers, including 2.18 million adults 25-54. CNN’s sister network HLN placed second in both categories with 1.39 million total viewers and 450,000 demo viewers. Fox News was in the extremely unusual position of placing third in the ratings… albeit barely. FNC drew 1.38 million total viewers and 430,000 demo viewers. MSNBC drew 697,000 total viewers including 246,000 demo viewers.
Viewership for CNN, FNC and MSNBC peaked in the 1-2PM hour, with CNN drawing 5.26 million total and 2.31 million demo viewers, FNC drawing 1.52 million total and 470,000 demo viewers and MSNBC drawing 813,000 total and 290,000 demo viewers. HLN peaked in the 2-3PM hour, drawing 1.45 million total and 479,000 demo viewers.
Millions of people also tuned in online, with the AP reporting more than two million streams of its pool coverage, not including streams hosted by other outlets, such as CNN.com or MSNBC.com.
Numbers for E! and BET are not yet available.
Saturday is typically one of the lowest-rated days for cable news, so it goes without saying that the huge numbers for the networks are anomalous. CNN drew nearly 10 times as many viewers from 12-4PM as it would on a typical Saturday, while MSNBC drew twice what it typically does. Fox News Channel saw by far the smallest bump in the ratings, drawing only about 1.5 times what it draws on a standard Saturday.
How anomalous are the numbers? Fox News Channel usually tops the cable news competition with an average of 916,000 total viewers and 186,000 demo viewers on Saturdays this year. CNN has averaged 573,000 total and 142,000 demo viewers, while MSNBC has averaged 344,000 total and 109,000 demo viewers.