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Busy Month Generates Cable News Ratings

A very busy breaking news cycle in May turned into a ratings bonanza for most of cable’s news networks.

The deadly tornadoes in Moore, Okla.; the discovery of three kidnapped women in Cleveland; and the infamous Jody Arias murder trial propelled Fox News, CNN and HLN to double-digit primetime ratings increases during the period of April 29 to May 26, according to Nielsen.

Fox News averaged 1.9 million primetime viewers in May, a 16% increase from the same period last year, while CNN boosted its audience by a whopping 68% to 650,000 from 388,000 in May 2012, according to Nielsen. HLN, with its extensive coverage of the Arias trial — in which defendant Arias was eventually convicted of killing her ex-boyfriend — finished third among the news networks with 609,000 viewers, up 86% from a year ago.

MSNBC was the only major cable news network to suffer a decline for the month, falling 20% to 528,000 total viewers and dropping to fourth place, according to Nielsen.

Among the target 25-to-54 demo, CNN and HLN posted increases of 96% and 90%, respectively, while Fox News fell 6% during the month and MSNBC dropped 19%.

Overall, TNT slam-dunked the competition with its National Basketball Association playoff s coverage to top all cable networks in primetime, averaging a fl at 3.1 million viewers for the month, Nielsen said.