"AC 360" averaged 720,000 total viewers Monday, up 42% from the 508,000 average for the show over the last four weeks. The surge was even bigger among 25- to 54-year-olds, the key age demographic for cable news. Cooper drew 294,000 viewers in the key demo, which is 73% higher than the prior four-week average of 170,000.
The interview was a big get for the cable news network, which has struggled in the ratings at times when there's not a big breaking story to cover, such as the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Coverage of the airliner mystery earlier this year significantly increased CNN's numbers.
In Monday night's interview, in which Sterling broke his silence about comments that led to a lifetime ban from the NBA, the 80-year-old billionaire criticized Lakers great Magic Johnson and suggested that African Americans have not done enough to help their community.
The turmoil began late last month when TMZ posted an audio recording of Sterling telling companion V. Stiviano not to post social-media photographs of herself with black people or bring them to Clippers games. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver fined Sterling $2.5 million, banned him from the league and called on other owners to force Sterling to sell the team.
Cooper's show topped the cable news time slot competition on MSNBC, which brought in 482,000 viewers overall and 114,000 in the key demo. However, Cooper couldn't top Fox News' "O'Reilly Factor," which had 2.29 million viewers and 362,000 in the 25-54 age group.