Below are February 2023 Nielsen ratings for Fox News, MSNBC and CNN, the wider cable news landscape followed by a full basic cable network audience ranker.
Fox News Channel:
Fox News is finishing February 2023 as it did January 2023, as the most-watched basic cable network in total day. FNC averaged nearly 1.44 million total viewers in the 6 a.m.-6 a.m. daypart in February, making it the most-watched basic cable network in total day. Fox News was also the most-watched basic cable network in primetime for February (2.26 million), and marked 24 consecutive months (or two straight years) as the top-rated cable news network in total viewers and among Adults 25-54.
When it comes to Adults 25-54, Fox News also averaged 189,000 in total day and 299,000 in primetime, No. 2 on basic cable behind ESPN.
This is according to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data for the month of February 2023.
Compared to the month of January 2023, Fox News is +7% in total day viewers—and +9% in the total day A25-54 demo, but -14% and a whopping -35% in the A25-54 demo from February 2022. To be fair, the final few days of that month featured wall-to-wall coverage of the onset of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, so it was going to be tough for the network to match those Feb. 2022 figures, particularly in non-primetime hours.
Speaking of Fox News primetime, Fox News posted a solid +16% gain in total viewers and +25% in Adults 25-54 from January. However, the network shed -14% in total primetime viewers and -33% in the primetime demo vs. Feb. 2022.
In terms of individual program performance, The Five remained the most-watched show on all of cable news for the 11th consecutive month, beating Tucker Carlson Tonight by a slim average of +7,000 total viewers. The Five averaged 3.31 million viewers during the 5 p.m. hour in February, while Tucker Carlson Tonight averaged 3.303 million at 8 p.m. Jesse Watters Primetime (2.83 million), Hannity (2.68 million) and Special Report with Bret Baier (2.44 million) round out the top five in total viewers. Tucker Carlson Tonight remained the top-rated cable news show in February among adults 25-54 (461,000).
FNC had the top 15 shows in the A25-54 demo, the top 13 in average total viewers, and had the 94 of the 100 most-watched cable news telecasts for the month of February 2023.
MSNBC is the second-most-watched basic cable network in primetime for February 2023. According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, the network averaged 1.165 million total viewers in the daypart, only fewer than Fox News. MSNBC also averaged 711,000 total day viewers in February, No. 2 on basic cable in total day again only behind Fox News.
In addition to ranking No. 2 in total primetime viewers and total day viewers, MSNBC ranked No. 21 in the primetime demo (119,000) and No. 17 in the total day demo (80,000) across basic cable.
Relative to the prior month (Jan. 2023), NBCU’s politics-focused cable network gained +11% in total primetime viewers—and +9% among adults 25-54. The network gained +1% in total day viewers—and +3% in the total day demo from January. Compared to what the network averaged in February of 2022, MSNBC dropped -2% in total primetime viewers—and -15% in the primetime demo. The network is -1% in total day viewers—and -6% in the total day demo from the year-ago month.
In regard to programming performance, The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell was MSNBC’s most watched-show, averaging 1.37 million viewers at 6 p.m.; No. 14 on all of cable news. All In With Chris Hayes was the network’s top-rated show among adults 25-54 (142,000 / No. 16 overall).
According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data for February 2023, CNN averaged 587,000 total primetime viewers, No. 12 on basic cable, and 474,000 total day viewers, No. 5 on basic cable. The network also averaged 122,000 adults 25-54 in primetime, No. 20 on basic cable, and 89,000 adults 25-54 in total day, No. 13 on basic cable.
CNN struggled to draw Adults 25-54 in February. The network’s 122,000 average in primetime represents its worst month in the measurement since 2013, and the 89,000 A25-54 average in total day represents the network’s worst month in the measurement since 2012.
Relative to the prior month (Jan. 2023), CNN shed -7% in total primetime viewers—and -15% among adults 25-54, -10% in total day viewers—and -17% among adults 25-54 in total day. When it comes to CNN’s performance versus the year-ago month (highlighted by Russia-Ukraine coverage), the network is -24% in total primetime viewers—and -42% in the primetime demo, -24% in total day viewers—and -41% in the key A25-54 demo.
Despite the month-to-month and year-over-year struggles, CNN managed to beat MSNBC in the key A25-54 demo both in total day and in primetime.
From an individual programming perspective, Anderson Cooper 360 is the network’s most-watched show (673,000; No. 26) and its top show among adults 25-54 (133,000; No. 20 overall).
February 2023 cable news network ratings
|• Total Viewers:||2,262,000||1,165,000||587,000||106,000||99,000|
|TOTAL DAY||Fox News||MSNBC||CNN||Newsmax||NewsNation|
|• Total Viewers:||1,437,000||711,000||474,000||85,000||104,000|
(Monday-Sunday, Nielsen live-same-day data; primetime, 8-11 p.m. ET/total day, 6 a.m.-6 a.m. ET)
Here’s the basic cable rankers for Feb. 2023: