Fox News & MSNBC Were The Top Two Cable Networks of The Week

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News, CNN and MSNBC each delivered double digit year-over-year audience growth during the week of April 3, due in part to last Thursday’s wall-to-wall prime time coverage of the U.S. missile strikes on the Syrian air base.

FNC finished No. 1 across all of basic cable in total viewers in total day, marking the network’s 14th straight week as TV’s most-watched cable channel, per Nielsen data. Fox News also scored the top spot in prime time, its 11th weekly win out of the past 12 weeks.

The network posted +46 percent growth in total prime time viewers, and +50 percent growth in total day viewers versus the same week in 2016 (week of April 4).

Here are cable’s top 5 networks in total viewers, both in prime time and in total day:

Basic Cable Top 5 – Primetime (P2+)

  1. Fox News (2,843,000)
  2. MSNBC (1,653,000)
  3. USA (1,523,000)
  4. HGTV  (1,406,000)
  5. TBS (1,173,000)

Basic Cable Top 5 – Total Day (P2+)

  1. FNC (1,663,000)
  2. Nickelodeon (1,149,000)
  3. MSNBC (867,000)
  4. CNN (832,000)
  5. HGTV (794,000)

Among all of cable, all five telecasts of The O’Reilly Factor last week ranked in the 10 most-watched programs in all of cable, despite advertisers leaving the program en masse. Additionally, during coverage of the missile strikes, the April 6th live editions of Hannity and Shepard Smith Reporting were the two most-watched cable programs for the week, respectively.

MSNBC had an impressive week in its own right. Not only did it finish the week as cable’s second-most-watched cable network in prime time, but it posted +92 percent year-over-year growth in the daypart, and marked 11 weeks of beating CNN in total prime time viewership. The network also finished No. 3 in total day viewers, and posted the most year-over-year growth in cable news (+75 percent).

CNN was a top 10 cable network in total prime time viewers (No. 7) and the 4th-most-watched network in total day this past week. CNN posted +30 percent growth in prime time and +42 percent growth in total day viewership relative to the same week in 2016.

HLN ranked No. 47 in total prime time viewers, and No. 40 in total day viewers this past week. The network posted year-over-year audience declines in both dayparts, -18 percent in prime time and -23 percent in total day.

CNBC ranked No. 45 in prime time viewers, and No. 61 in total day viewers. Similar to HLN, CNBC was down from the same week last year: -8 percent in prime time and -6 percent in total day.

Fox Business ranked No. 77 in total prime time viewers, and No. 63 in total day viewers. FBN, on the other hand, posted year-over-year growth: +53 percent in prime time viewers and +57 percent in total day viewers.

Basic Cable Ranker: Week of April 3 (Total Viewers)