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As cable viewers looked for coverage of the Fort Hood shootings on Thursday afternoon, most of them turned to Fox News. With CNN a distant second in the ratings, it appears that Fox News has effectively parlayed its primetime success into becoming a go-to destination for breaking news of big events.
During the time following the shootings, from 3:00pm to midnight on Thursday, Fox News saw an increase over its regular audience by more than one million viewers, as 3.04 million were tuned in on average through the evening. During this time period, CNN was second with 1.58 million viewers and MSNBC was third with 820,000.
The places were the same for total day as well. In the 25-54 demographic, Fox News attracted 472,000 viewers as CNN followed with 278,00 and MSNBC with 146,000. (More ratings here).
CNN’s relatively strong showing on the day of the Fort Hood shootings was important for the struggling cable news network, which was coming off of a disappointing fourth place finish for election night last week. Fox News, for its part, continued to assert its dominance and, as Brian Stelter of The New York Times points out, ratings for FNC’s “The O’Reilly Factor” at 8:00pm EST were higher than some shows on broadcast networks. An average of 4.99 million viewers for “O’Reilly” topped the tally for NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” which had 4.91 million in the same time slot.