NEW YORK, Jan 27 (TheWrap.com) - CNN hit the sweet spot with its GOP candidates' debate in Florida Thursday night, registering its best performance in the key demo during this election cycle and its second largest total audience.
The Wolf Blitzer-moderated sparring contest drew 5.4 million total viewers and 1.74 million in the adults 25-54 demo, the fourth best demo performance of any debate thus far and the second best among cable news networks.
Fox News' debate in Iowa December 15 still reigns supreme in cable with its 6.7 million total viewers and 1.87 in the demo, while ABC's Iowa debate takes the cake overall in total viewers. NBC's "Rock Center" debate in Florida January 23 set the bar for the demo.
As those numbers suggest, CNN's debate is in the middle of the pack overall, but for the network they are substantial.
As Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney fought over grandmas, immigration and tax records, viewers pushed CNN well ahead of its cable news foes Thursday night, and the network held onto its lead in the 10 p.m. hour.
CNN is slated to host the next scheduled debate February 22: Yes, viewers get a reprieve from the nearly endless series of debates -- unless another pops up before then.
(Editing By Zorianna Kit)