CNN's five-night streak of beating Fox News Channel in the demo came to an abrupt end on Wednesday night. The return of flagship personality Bill O'Reilly brought big ratings for the typically dominant cable news network.
After cutting a vacation short to cover the ongoing conflict in Ferguson, Missouri, O'Reilly reclaimed his seat at the 8 p.m. ET telecast and averaged 615,000 viewers in the news-targeted demographic of adults 25-54. That outpaced Tuesday winner Anderson Cooper by 269,000 demo viewers.
With O'Reilly, FNC averaged 540,000 adults 25-54 in primetime — more than CNN and MSNBC combined. Primetime also brought the network an improvement in total viewers to an average 2.7 million. It was the only channel of the big three cable news nets to improve upon Tuesday's returns.
FNC's ratings wins, in both the demo and total viewers, extend past primetime and into total day.
The regular ratings winner, FNC does see increased competition from CNN during times of breaking news. And as the last week has proved, Ferguson is no exception. Each of the networks has gone to exhaustive lengths to cover the protests (and controversial police response) over the Aug. 9 shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by local police.
O'Reilly covered the events from the network studio in New York, as did MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, while Anderson Cooper has fronted coverage for CNN down in Ferguson.