Ratings Analysis: Tucson Memorial Service a Big Draw For Cable News Channels

By Alex Weprin 

The memorial service honoring the victims of the Tucson shooting was a big draw for the three cable news channels last night.

Fox News led the way, drawing nearly three million viewers in primetime, including 725,000 A 25-54. The network drew around three and a half million viewers during the service itself, peaking with 3.8 million viewers during President Obama’s speech. Bret Baier anchored for FNC, leading into “On the Record” with Greta Van Susteren at 10 PM.

CNN, which typically thrives during breaking news events, saw a huge ratings bump during the service, topping two million viewers during the 8 and 9 PM hours, more than enough to beat MSNBC’s coverage of the event. The two million viewers is four times what the network drew at 8 and 9 PM last Wednesday. Wolf Blitzer anchored, with John King and Jessica Yellin in Arizona.

Despite being the recipient of a solid ratings bump, MSNBC placed third during the actual service itself, with Keith Olbermann anchoring. That having been said, MSNBC also handily beat both Fox News and CNN during the 11 PM hour with a special live edition of “Countdown.” Fox News and CNN aired a replay of the Tucson memorial during that hour.

The full ratings chart can be viewed here.

Update: Nielsen now estimates that just over 30 million people watched president Obama’s speech across NBC, CBS, Fox, ABC, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. More after the jump.

Nielsen notes that this is more than watched his address on Iraq last August, and slightly less than the number that tuned in to his address on the Gulf oil spill last June.