When Hurricane Irene Was on Approach, Weather Channel Was Tops in Cable News

By Alex Weprin 

Friday evening, with Hurricane Irene barreling toward the eastern seaboard, the Weather Channel became the go-to cable news channel. Ratings data from Nielsen show that Weather was easily the most watched cable news outlet in both total viewers and the key adults 25-54 demographic Friday evening.

In primetime, Weather averaged 2.45 million viewers, including 1.11 million adults 25-54. By comparison, Fox News Channel drew 1.96 million total viewers and 462,000 A25-54. CNN had 1.39 million total viewers, including 477,000 demo viewers while MSNBC had 680,000 total viewers, including 205,000 A25-54.

CNN also had a strong night ratings-wise.

While FNC and MSNBC saw a slight bump in the ratings from a typical Friday evening, CNN’s viewership bump was substantial, finishing second behind Weather in the demo for the night.

Weather peaked at 9 PM, averaging 2.58 million viewers, including 1.18 million A25-54. CNN peaked at 10 PM, averaging 1.55 million viewers including 605,000 A25-54. FNC peaked at 8 PM with 2.29 million total and 503,000 A25-54. MSNBC peaked at 9 PM with 844,000 total viewers and 252,000 A25-54. (Note: as the final Friday ratings grid will show, FNC actually peaked in demo viewers at 6 PM, but for ad sales purposes “primetime” typically begins at 7 PM.)

In total day, Weather remained number one in both total viewers and the demo, although it was a little bit closer than it was in primetime:

Weather Channel:
Total: 1.582M Demo: 637K

Fox News:
Total: 1.421M Demo: 386K

Total: 952K Demo: 334K

Total: 475K Demo: 155K