NEW YORK – Nearly 42 million people watched the last hour of Friday’s manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspect on television.
That was the Nielsen company’s estimate Monday of the number of people watching ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News Channel or MSNBC during the hour that ended at 9 p.m. on the East Coast. That’s when police announced that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had been taken into custody after hiding in a boat.
The real-life drama clearly captured the interest of TV viewers. Nielsen said the coverage had about double the amount of people who usually watch those networks on Friday night, typically a light night for TV viewing.
The channels all devoted their full prime time to story. For the three hours of prime time, the channels had 35.9 million viewers, compared to 21.9 million they would get on a typical Friday.
During the 8 p.m. hour, NBC’s coverage had 10.7 million viewers – up from the 2.9 million people who watched “Fashion Star” on that network at that time the previous Friday.
ABC had 7.8 million viewers for that hour, Fox News Channel had 7.6 million, CBS had 6.9 million, CNN had 6.8 million and MSNBC 1.7 million.
As is often the case during big news stories, CNN saw the biggest jump among cable news networks. CNN, normally third behind Fox and MSNBC in prime time, even won among the 25-to-54-year-old demographic most sought by advertisers.
Excluding nights of political coverage, it was CNN’s most-watched night in a decade.