Missing Malaysian Airlines jet nets high ratings on cable news
Screen shot of Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer covering the story of missing Flight MH 370 on CNN.
BEIJING, CHINA - MARCH 15: A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 answers media questions at the Lido Hotel on March 15, 2014 in Beijing, China. During a press conference today the Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak said that investigators had discovered evidence from satellite and radar systems indicating that the communication systems of the aircraft had been intentionally disabled. The search for the plane in the South China Sea has now been abandoned with the focus switching to two flight corridors, the first stretching from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand and a second stretching from Indonesia to the South Indian Ocean.The missing aircraft was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - MARCH 14: A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 answers media questions at Lido Hotel on March 14, 2014 in Beijing, China. Officials have expanded the search area for the missing flight beyond the intended flight path to include the west of Malaysia at the Straits of Malacca as new information surfaces about the time Subang air traffic control lost contact with the aircraft. The flight carrying 239 passengers from Kuala Lumpur to Thailand was reported missing on the morning of March 8 after the crew failed to check in as scheduled. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - MARCH 10: A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 answers media questions at Lido Hotel on March 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. Malaysia Airline Flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and carrying 239 onboard was reported missing on early on March 8 after the crew failed to check in as scheduled while flying over the sea between Malaysia and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - MARCH 10: A relative of a Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 passenger speaks to the media at a hotel in Putrajaya on March 10, 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Possible airliner debris has been spotted in the sea off Vietnam as investigative teams search for the whereabouts of Malaysia Airlines flight MG370 and the 293 passengers aboard travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The airliner was reported missing on the morning of March 8 after the crew failed to check in as scheduled. Relatives of the missing passengers have been advised to prepare for the worst as authorities focus on two passengers on board travelling with stolen passports. (Photo by How Foo Yeen/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - MARCH 09: Hugh Dunleavy, (Center) Head of commercial - Malaysia Airlines speaks to media at Lido Hotel on March 9, 2014 in Beijing, China. Malaysia Airline Flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and carrying 239 onboard was reported missing. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
A family member of passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane is mobbed by journalists at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, March 8, 2014. Search teams across Southeast Asia scrambled on Saturday to find a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 239 people on board that disappeared from air traffic control screens over waters between Malaysia and Vietnam early that morning. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
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By DAVID BAUDER
AP Television Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- The mystery of the missing Malaysian Airlines jet has become a hot television story, particularly on CNN.
The network devoted the bulk of its time Friday to the story, a direct result of ratings showing a fascination among viewers about the Boeing 777 airliner that has been missing since taking off from a Kuala Lumpur airport a week ago.
CNN averaged 588,000 viewers for the full day Thursday, well above its average of 320,000 this year. Anderson Cooper's prime-time show, which has focused heavily on the mystery, more than doubled its typical viewership the last two nights and topped 1.1 million viewers Thursday.
The network tracked various theories Friday, a headline on its screen identifying the story as "Vanished." Correspondent Martin Savidge did several reports from a cockpit simulator, Wolf Blitzer discussed whether the recording of a seismic event in the region on the day the plane took off could be tied to a crash and security experts continued to mull potential terrorism.
It has become a water cooler topic, with several social media references to the downed jet that kicked off the popular television series "Lost."
Cooper's show, which has averaged 444,000 viewers this year, reached 972,000 people on Wednesday, Nielsen said. On both of the last two nights, Cooper achieved the highly unusual feat of topping Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly among the 25- to 54-year-old age demographic. O'Reilly easily won among viewers of all ages.
So far, the plane story has meant less for Fox and MSNBC, which have a heavier concentration on political stories. Fox's full-day average of 1.26 million people on Thursday beat the 1.1 million it has been typically drawing this year. MSNBC had 370,000 viewers, lower than its non-Olympic average of 405,000 this year, Nielsen said.