Here Are Cable News Ratings for April 2023

By A.J. Katz 

Below are April 2023 Nielsen ratings for Fox News, MSNBC and CNN, followed by a duo of full basic cable network audience rankers.

Fox News Channel:

Despite fierce competition from the NBA Playoffs on TNT and ESPN, the Stanley Cup Playoffs on ESPN and TBS, as well as Tucker Carlson‘s highly-publicized exit late last month, Fox News maintained its status as the most-watched basic cable network both in total day and in primetime.


According to Nielsen live plus same day data for April, FNC averaged 1.29 million total day viewers, 2.07 million total primetime viewers and and marked 26 consecutive months as the top-rated cable news network in total viewers and among Adults 25-54.

Speaking of Adults 25-54, Fox News averaged 161,000 in total day (No. 3 behind and ESPN and TNT) and 240,000 in primetime (No. 5 behind TNT, ESPN, TBS and USA. Live sports, specifically the NBA and NHL, continues to dominate among adults under 55, but isn’t quite as dominant among older and total viewers.

Despite dominating its competition from CNN and MSNBC, Fox News saw losses from March, though not as significant as one might have expected after this past week’s saga. The network dropped just -2% in total day viewers—and -1% in the total day A25-54 demo, -1% in average total primetime viewers and -2% in the A25-54 demo, with those month-to-month primetime losses–instead of gains–driven by the Carlson absence.

The network’s year-over-year trend is poor. The network shed -15% in total day viewers, -35% in total day demo, -12% in total primetime viewers and -34% in the primetime demo vs. April 2022.

In terms of individual program performance, Tucker Carlson Tonight was cable news’ most-watched show in April before its cancellation. TCT /Fox News Tonight averaged 3.055 million total viewers in the month of April, edging The Five (3.03 million viewers) at 5 p.m. Carlson’s exclusive interview with Elon Musk and the first interview with former President Trump post-indictment put Fox’s 8 p.m. hour over the top, despite that rough final week of April.

Despite its host being on paternity leave for the latter half of the month, Jesse Watters Primetime took third place in total viewers (2.78 million), while Hannity (2.61 million) and Special Report with Bret Baier (2.21 million) round out the top five in total viewers.

Tucker Carlson Tonight remained the top-rated cable news show in April among adults 25-54 (390,000), followed by The Five (338,000), Jesse Watters Primetime (319,000), Hannity (299,000) and Gutfeld! (272,000) rounding out the top five.

FNC had the top 10 cable news shows in the A25-54 demo, and the top eight in average total viewers.


It might not have caught up to Fox News, but MSNBC had a very strong month from a Nielsen ratings perspective.

MSNBC is the fourth-most-watched basic cable network in primetime for April 2023. According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, the network averaged 1.32 million total viewers in the daypart, only fewer than Fox News and playoffs-carrying TNT and ESPN. MSNBC also averaged 820,000 total day viewers in April, No. 2 on basic cable in total day, again only behind Fox News.

In addition to ranking No. 4 in total primetime viewers and No. 2 in total day viewers, MSNBC ranked tied for No. 14 in the primetime demo (149,000) and tied for No. 8 in the total day demo with Investigation Discovery (102,000). That’s up 13 and eight spots, respectively, from March 2023.

Relative to the prior month (March 2023), NBCU’s politics-focused cable network gained +16% in total primetime viewers—and +39% among adults 25-54. The network also gained +17% in total day viewers—and +31% in the total day demo from March.

MSNBC beat CNN in the primetime demo (149,000 vs. 135,000) and edged its rival in the total day demo by just +1,000 viewers (102,000 vs. 101,000). That total day demo win over CNN for the month of April is a first since November 2019. How’d MSNBC win? Its coverage of the arraignment of Donald Trump (week of April 3) delivered the network’s most-watched week since the Midterm Election in November 2022.

In regard to April programming performance, The Beat with Ari Melber is MSNBC’s top-rated show, not only in total viewers (1.61 million) but also in adults 25-54 (178,000). That’s No. 9 and tied for No. 13 on cable news in the respective categories.


Similar to MSNBC, CNN posted solid month-to-month Nielsen ratings growth, although it remains behind its competition in the key measurements.

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data for April 2023, CNN averaged 587,000 total primetime viewers, No. 13 on basic cable (up three spots from March), and 480,000 total day viewers, No. 5 on basic cable (up one spot from March). The network also averaged 135,000 adults 25-54 in primetime, No. 18 on basic cable (up 12 spots from March), and 101,000 adults 25-54 in total day, No. 10 on basic cable (up four spots from March).

Compared to March, CNN gained +24% in total primetime viewers—and +35% among adults 25-54, +13% in total day viewers—and +22% among adults 25-54 in total day.

Despite those gains, the network still trails MSNBC in the A25-54 demo by a slight margin.

From an individual programming perspective, Anderson Cooper 360 is the network’s most-watched show for April (782,000; tied for No. 27) and its the top-rated show among adults 25-54 (183,000; No. 11 overall).

CNN also got a lift from its primetime coverage of the 2023 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The April 29 live broadcast drew more than 1.1 million viewers in primetime, significantly more than what the network traditionally averages on Saturday nights.

And latly, Newsmax posted a +77% gain in total primetime viewers (177,000 in April vs. 113,000 in March), with those gains driven by Carlson’s departure from Fox News.

April 2023 cable news network ratings (Nielsen live plus same day data)

PRIMETIME Fox News MSNBC CNN Newsmax NewsNation
• Total Viewers: 2,072,000 1,320,000 587,000 177,000 101,000
• A25-54: 240,000 149,000 135,000 19,000 17,000




TOTAL DAY Fox News MSNBC CNN Newsmax NewsNation
• Total Viewers: 1,293,000 820,000 480,000 121,000 79,000
• A25-54: 161,000 102,000 101,000 13,000 11,000




April 2023 (Total Viewers)

April 2023 (Adults 25-54)