Despite error, CNN gets ratings boost from Boston bombing, trails Fox

Fri Apr 19, 2013 7:04pm EDT
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By Lisa Richwine

(Reuters) - Cable news channel CNN saw a big spike in ratings as viewers kept tuned to its coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing, even after an embarrassing mistake in which it claimed a suspect was taken into custody earlier in the week.

Viewership on Time Warner-owned CNN nearly doubled from the previous week, from the first news of the bombings that killed three people at the race's finish line to the start of a manhunt for two suspects.

CNN's Monday-to-Thursday audience jumped by 194 percent, according to Nielsen data provided by Horizon Media, to an average of 1 million viewers throughout an entire day.

That enabled CNN to leap over Comcast Corp's MSNBC, which had led CNN by an average of 18,000 viewers before the bombings. Both trailed ratings leader News Corp's Fox News Channel, whose audience increased by 48 percent to an average of 1.6 million viewers.

"CNN, despite its ratings woes, is still a destination network for the light and casual news viewers," said Horizon Media analyst Brad Adgate. "They have been around longer than anyone else."

On Wednesday, CNN made a major mistake when it wrongly reported that authorities had a bombing suspect in custody. A CNN spokeswoman said the information was based on three credible sources and was changed as soon as sources provided new information.

The error was skewered by social media comments and comedian Jon Stewart on the "Daily Show."

Despite the criticism, CNN's ratings increased by about 263,000 viewers from Wednesday to Thursday. On Thursday, when law enforcement officials released photos and videos of the two suspects, CNN's audience averaged 1.2 million people.   Continued...