LOS ANGELES, July 15 About 10.6 million people
tuned in Saturday night to U.S. cable news networks to watch the
verdict in George Zimmerman's murder trial, boosting viewership
in a usually slow time slot, according to early figures obtained
by Reuters on Monday.
The four major networks, which aired gavel-to-gavel coverage
of the three-week trial, each pulled in more than 1 million
viewers when the verdict was announced around 10 p.m. EDT.
The networks typically average fewer than 650,000 viewers
over the course of the 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. time slot on Saturday.
Florida neighborhood watchman Zimmerman, 29 and part
Hispanic, was acquitted of murdering 17-year-old
African-American Trayvon Martin in a case that has roused
intense feelings on gun control and race in the United States.
Twenty-First Century Fox Inc's Fox News Channel
drew the largest audience with about 3.7 million viewers during
the 10 o'clock hour, according to Nielsen data.
Time Warner Inc-owned CNN was watched by 3.4
million, while its sister network HLN drew 2.2 million viewers
in the same time frame. Comcast Corp's MSNBC pulled in
an audience of 1.3 million.
CNN, which had been languishing in the ratings, was most
popular in the 25-to-54-year-old demographic most sought after
by advertisers as some 1.7 million viewers in that group tuned
in for the verdict.
Breaking news events, however, traditionally carry less
value because networks' live coverage rarely take commercial
Fox News Channel was also the top network during the 10 p.m.
to 1 a.m. ET live coverage time slot, with an average of 2.7
million viewers, ahead of CNN with 2.4 million.
Fox News Channel has about 629,000 viewers on average during
that time slot, while MSNBC places second with an average of
469,000 viewers and CNN third with 384,000 average viewers.
CNN started behind HLN in third place during the early
stages of the Zimmerman trial but rose to second place with an
average of 656,000 viewers during the hours the trial was shown
live. Fox News Channel was in first throughout the trial with an
average of 1.04 million viewers during the same daytime hours.