From 8 to 11 p.m. Eastern time, Fox News averaged 4.8 million viewers — a record for cable news primary coverage — leading CNN's 4.1 million and MSNBC's 1.98 million viewers. Both Fox News and CNN surpassed the previous primary coverage ratings highs set on Feb. 1 with the Iowa caucuses.
CNN was first in the 25-to-54 age group that advertisers seek most when buying time on TV news programs. The network averaged 1.59 in the category, topping Fox News (1.36 million) and MSNBC (625,000). CNN's total is an all-time high for cable news primary coverage in the demographic.
Compared with Super Tuesday on Feb. 5, 2008, the last time both the Republicans and Democratic parties had a competitive field of candidates, Fox News, led by anchors Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier, was up 40% in viewership. CNN's coverage, led by Wolf Blitzer, was up 12%. MSNBC, anchored by Brian Williams and Rachel Maddow, declined by 6%.
The broadcast networks also devoted an hour to coverage at 10 p.m. across the country. NBC's coverage, led by its evening news anchor Lester Holt, ranked first, with 5.88 million viewers. CBS averaged 4.89 million viewers in the hour with "CBS Evening News" anchor Scott Pelley. ABC's coverage, led by its chief anchor, George Stephanopoulos, lagged behind with 3.19 million viewers.
5:11 p.m.: This story has been updated with final national ratings for the broadcast networks.