Fox News Tops among Cable Nets with SOTU Coverage

When it came to President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night, Fox News Channel set the viewership and demo paces in the cable news sector.

Fox News Channel averaged 4.72 million viewers from 9:14 p.m. to 10:20 p.m. (ET), more than double the combined tally of 4.4 million for MSNBC (2.29 million) and CNN (2.08 million), according to Nielsen data. Fox News chalked up a 28% gain from 3.68 million who watched the SOTU on its air on Feb. 12, 2013. Conversely, MSNBC saw its total decline 24% from 3.03 million, while CNN’s fell 43% from 3.64 million.

Viewership peaked on FNC with 4.8 million in the 9:45 p.m. quarter hour, as did CNN with 2.1 million. For its part, MSNBC’s most-watched period occurred in the 10 p.m. quarter hour with 2.4 million.

Among the 25-to-54 set, FNC was also comfortably in front, counting 1.19 million of those watchers, up 25% from 956,000 in 2013. CNN finished second with the so-called news demo, despite a 47% drop to 760,000 from 1.44 million, with MSNBC tallying 752,000, off 27% from 1.03 million.

FNC’s audience total outscored the 2.83 million who watched on Fox Broadcast from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., according to Nielsen. CBS scored highest overall with SOTU, counting 7.43 million viewers, ahead of 5.57 million on NBC and 4.89 million for ABC.

Overall, the State of Union averaged 33.3 million viewers, down slightly from last year's 33.5 million across 13 networks -- CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, Azteca, Fox Business, Fox News Channel, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, Al Jazeera America, Galavision and Mun2. Univision aired the speech on a tape delay. That marked the lowest total since President Bill Clinton's final SOTU drew a collective 31.5 million on January 27, 2000.

From 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. -- the expanded span including the Republican response to Obama’s speech -- FNC posted 4.51 million watchers, including 1.11 million in the news demo. MSNBC was second with 2.17 million total viewers and 703, 527 adults 25 to 54 and CNN third with 1.88 million and 663,214, respectively.

For the post-speech analysis from 10:20 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. NBC led with 6.70 million total viewers, followed by CBS's 6.56 million and ABC's 5.57 million.

For the post-speech analysis from 10:20 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Eastern, NBC led with 6.70 million total viewers, followed by CBS (6.56 million) and ABC (5.57 million).