Weather Channel leads cable news ratings with Sandy coverage

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Viewers looking for an update as Hurricane Sandy approached the U.S. East Coast made The Weather Channel the most-watched cable news channel on Sunday.

An average of more than 1.4 million people watched The Weather Channel at some point during the day, according to Nielsen data supplied by the network.

The Weather Channel beat rivals including Fox News Channel and CNN among viewers aged 25 to 54, the primary age group of interest to cable news advertisers. An average of 590,000 viewers in that age group tuned in from 3 a.m. Sunday to 3 a.m. Monday, its biggest audience for 2012, according to the Nielsen data.

“People had an immediate need for information about Sandy. We were just happy they came to us for it,” said David Kenny, chairman and CEO of The Weather Company, the channel’s parent company, in an interview on Monday.

The 25-to-54 viewership more than doubled ratings for News Corp’s Fox News Channel, which had 255,000 viewers during the same period, according to Nielsen data supplied by The Weather Channel.

It also far outpaced other news networks that were providing extensive coverage of the storm. A combined 478,000 viewers age 25 to 54 watched CNN, MSNBC and Headline News Network, the channel said.

MSNBC said it had 170,000 viewers age 25 to 54 for a slightly different time period, 6 a.m. Sunday to 2 a.m. Monday. During the same time, Fox had 1.3 million viewers, according to data provided by MSNBC. The Weather Channel said its viewership reached 1.6 million during that period.

A CNN representative could not immediately be reached. A Fox News spokeswoman had no comment.

Digital coverage of the storm also attracted a large audience. The Weather Channel website had a record 300 million page views on Monday, it said.

The Weather Channel Cos is owned by a consortium of Comcast Corp’s NBC Universal and the private equity firms Bain Capital and The Blackstone Group.

(Reporting By Lisa Richwine- Editing by Ronald Grover and Jim Marshall)

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