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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine boosts US cable news network viewership

Cable news viewership jumped during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Fox News Channel leading the way and CNN showing the most dramatic increases.

CNN, Fox and MSNBC collectively averaged 6.4 million viewers in prime time between the start of the war last Wednesday and Sunday night.

That’s up from their January average of 4 million, the Nielsen company said.

For the full day between Wednesday and Sunday, Fox averaged 2.32 million viewers, up 64% from the quieter news month of January.

CNN’s audience soared from 633,000 in January to 1.75 million last week, up 178%. MSNBC had 980,000 for its war coverage, up 51% over January.

Those numbers match a trend: CNN tends to have the most dramatic increases during big news events while its rivals, more focused on political talk, are steadier in the quiet periods.

In entertainment, the venerable series Law & Order returned last week, with 5.8 million people watching the debut of its revival last Thursday.

That along with the Chicago Fire and its spinoffs gave the prolific producer Dick Wolf four series in Nielsen’s top 12.

CBS won the week in prime time, averaging 4.5 million viewers. ABC had 3.5 million, NBC had 3.4 million, Fox had 2 million, Univision had 1.7 million, Ion Television had 1.1 million and Telemundo had 1 million.

Fox News Channel led the cable networks with an average of 3.17 million viewers in prime time. CNN had 1.5 million, MSNBC had 1.39 million, ESPN had 1.15 million and HGTV had 1.1 million.

ABC’s World News Tonight won the evening news ratings race with an average of 9 million viewers last week. NBC’s Nightly News had 7.6 million and the CBS Evening News had 5.3 million.

For the week of Feb. 21-27, the top 20 shows in prime time, their networks and viewerships:

1. 60 Minutes, CBS, 8.36 million.

2. FBI, CBS, 7.33 million.

3. The Equalizer, CBS, 7.18 million.

4. Chicago Med, NBC, 7.13 million.

5. Young Sheldon, CBS, 6.95 million.

6. Chicago Fire, NBC, 6.83 million.

7. American Idol, ABC, 6.3 million.

8. Blue Bloods, CBS, 6.25 million.

9. FBI: International, CBS, 6.13 million.

10. Chicago PD, NBC, 6.01 million.

11. Ghosts, CBS, 5.85 million.

12. Law & Order, NBC, 5.8 million.

13. Jeopardy! College Championship, ABC, 5.72 million.

14. FBI: Most Wanted, CBS, 5.7 million.

15. NBC New Special Report: Russia/Ukraine Crisis, NBC, 5.34 million.

16. NCIS: Los Angeles, CBS, 5.23 million.

17. Magnum P.I., CBS, 5.21 million.

18. Law & Order: SVU, NBC, 5.15 million.

19. America’s Funniest Home Videos, ABC, 5.14 million.

20. 911: Lone Star, Fox, 5.13 million. AP

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