A cooped-up audience hungry for information on the coronavirus is driving up viewership of TV news to extraordinary levels.

Cable and broadcast networks typically see a Nielsen ratings bump when the public is captivated by . But the networks have rarely experienced anything quite like the viewership surge they are seeing at all hours of the day, as half the country is ordered to stay home in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

A stark example was the Fox News broadcast from the White House on Tuesday with discussing the crisis. The audience of 4.4 million viewers was the largest ever for a cable news “town hall” style program, even though it aired at noon Eastern time when there are typically fewer people available to

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