MSNBC Thumped in Saturday’s Cable Coverage of Syria

Chuck Todd / AP


MSNBC finished way behind Fox News and CNN Saturday during cable news coverage of developments in Syria, Variety reports.

Nielsen estimated Fox News was the most-watched news network during the special breaking news coverage on Syria from noon to 5 p.m. ET, averaging 971,000 viewers, with CNN next at 926,000 and MSNBC a distant third at just 390,000:

While both FNC and CNN saw significant week-over-week gains, third-place MSNBC actually was down about 20% week to week, averaging 390,000 viewers for its Syria coverage.

In the key news demo of adults 25-54, CNN (242,000) edged FNC (235,000), with MSNBC drawing 124,000.

On a total day basis, which includes hours before and after the breaking news coverage, Fox News led with 772,000 total viewers and 183,000 adults 25-54. CNN ran second in total viewers (470,000 to 364,000 for MSNBC), but MSNBC narrowly led CNN in adults 25-54 (154,000 to 151,000) — another indication that CNN has had difficulty maintaining an audience in the aftermath of big events.

This comes after MSNBC’s ratings tumble in 2013 continued with a poor August showing, with some primetime programs seeing nearly a 50-percent drop in viewership from a year ago. The liberal network also was crushed during the reading of the George Zimmerman murder trial verdict Saturday, July 13, finishing fourth behind Fox, CNN and HLN despite wall-to-wall coverage of the case.

A Gallup poll in July showed MSNBC was tied with such outlets as Univision, PBS and BBC as the primary source of news for just 1 percent of all U.S. adults.

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