Live coverage of the standoff with a suspect believed to be the fugitive Christopher Dorner on Tuesday turned into a ratings monster, with Los Angeles TV stations at least doubling their usual viewership and even national outlets covering the drama.
More than 2 million Los Angeles-area viewers were watching 5 p.m. newscasts across the five major local outlets, hours after former LAPD cop Dorner allegedly traded gunfire with police at a cabin near Big Bear (the stations started their live coverage about 1 p.m.).
KABC-TV led the way, with 708,000 viewers, followed by KCBS (680,000 with a KCAL simulcast), KTLA (259,000), KNBC (221,000) and KTTV (169,000). KCBS said it was the station’s highest-rated 5 p.m. newscast since at least 2004 and was nearly five times the previous average so far this month.
When local outlets later cut away for live network coverage of President Obama’s State of the Union address, viewing fell considerably.
Cable news networks found themselves toggling back and forth between Dorner and the president’s speech. Between 3 p.m. and 6:15 p.m., Fox News led the way (3.2 million), followed by CNN (2.8 million) and MSNBC (1.3 million). During the speech itself, which started at 6:15 p.m. and ran for an hour, Fox won (3.7 million), trailed by CNN (3.6 million) and MSNBC (3 million).