Fox News Rates Best for Reagan Rites

Fox News Channel was the cable outlet of choice among viewers interested in watching the funeral of former President Ronald Reagan.

For its coverage from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., when the proceedings shifted to California, Fox News pulled in an average of 4.66 million viewers, compared with 2.9 million and 1.3 million for Cable News Network and MSNBC, respectively. From 10 to 11 p.m. that night, Fox News had the highest-rated show in basic cable for the week of June 7 to 13, with an 8.0 household mark.

All told, Nielsen Media Research data indicated that the cumulative audience for the sunset ceremony from Simi Valley, Calif., that night totaled 35.1 million viewers on the aforementioned cable networks and CNBC, as well as ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC.

In primetime (8 to 11 p.m.) that night, Fox News averaged 4.98 million viewers, versus 3.1 million and 1.38 million for MSNBC.

During the day, Fox News also held Nielsen sway. The network averaged 2.85 million viewers from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 11, the period that saw Reagan’s funeral procession move to the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. CNN pulled in 1.51 million viewers on average during this span, while MSNBC drew 832,000, according to Nielsen.

Overall, Fox News claimed seven of the top 20 shows for the week, including three of the top four, with its funeral coverage. In addition to the 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. period, the 10 minutes after posted a 7.6, while the hour before averaged a 6.9.

The 2004 MTV Movie Awards was third for the week averaging a 7.5 from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. June 10.

Disney Channel’s original telepic, Zenon Z3, was the highest-rated film, averaging a 3.4 from 8 p.m. to 9:40 p.m. June 11 for a share of ninth overall.

Despite the Reagan run-up, Turner Network Television led the week with a 2.1, easing past the 2.0 averages for both TBS, sporting part of its new lineup, and Disney, according to an ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen data.

USA Network ranked fourth with a 1.9, while Nickelodeon was fifth at a 1.8. Nick at Nite and Fox News Channel were next, both at a 1.7.

Rounding out the top 10: MTV: Music Television with a 1.6, Cartoon Network at a 1.5 and Lifetime Television with a 1.3.

The ratings for Nick and Nick at Nite reflect nine and 12 hours of programming in primetime, respectively, versus 21 for other services. Beginning with its April month, Nielsen began rating Nick and its spinoff as separate services, even though they share the same channel space.