Here Are the Top-Rated Cable News Shows for May 2021

By A.J. Katz 

According to live-plus-same-day data from Nielsen, Tucker Carlson Tonight is the No. 1 cable news show for May 2021, not just in average total audience, but also among adults 25-54.

Once again cable television’s top-rated host, Carlson hauled in an average of 2.9 million total viewers, and 478,000 adults 25-54 per original broadcast in May. In April, Carlson’s 8 p.m. show averaged 3 million total viewers and 523, 000 demo viewers. So, a month-to-month decline.

Hannity and The Five swapped spots in May, with Hannity finishing the month just +3,000 total viewers ahead of The Five. The latter out-performed the former in April among total viewers. MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show and The Ingraham Angle round out cable news’ top five for May. TRMS and Ingraham Angle also finished No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, the previous month.

Seven of the 10-most-watched shows of the month are Fox News shows. The other three were MSNBC shows.

In its second month on air, Fox News Channel’s Gutfeld! earned a spot in the cable news top 10 (total viewers), and beat its 11 p.m. competition.

Fox News Primetime was the only top 10 show to see growth in total viewers from the prior month (+1%).

CNN’s most-watched show for May was Cuomo Primetime (1.0 million). However, it was only the 22nd-most-watched show on all of cable news for the month. The top 21 (in total viewers) either aired on Fox News or MSNBC.

Here’s the top 10 for May 2021, as per live-plus-same-day data from Nielsen.

  1. Fox News| 8 p.m. / Tucker Carlson Tonight: 2,937,000/ 24 telecasts
  2. Fox News | 9 p.m. / Hannity: 2,634,000 / 21 telecasts
  3. Fox News | 5 p.m. / The Five: 2,631,000 / 24 telecasts
  4. MSNBC | 9 p.m. / The Rachel Maddow Show / 23 telecasts
  5. Fox News | 10 p.m. / The Ingraham Angle: 2,055,000 / 23 telecasts
  6. Fox News | 6 p.m. / Special Report with Bret Baier: 1,833,000 / 24 telecasts
  7. MSNBC | 10 p.m. / Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell: 1,703,000 / 22 telecasts
  8. Fox News | 7 p.m. / Fox News Primetime: 1,607,000 / 24 telecasts
  9. Fox News | 11 p.m. / Gutfeld! : 1,474,000 / 23 telecasts
  10. MSNBC: | 8 p.m. / All In with Chris Hayes: 1,450,000 / 22 telecasts

May 2021 cable news show ranker (Total Viewers)


How about the top cable news shows among adults 25-54? After all, this is a demographic that advertisers of news often focus their $$ on.

As previously mentioned, Tucker Carlson Tonight averaged the largest adults 25-54 audience of any cable news show in April by a substantial margin, as per live-plus-same-day data from Nielsen (478,000), although that’s down _-% from what the broadcast averaged in April (523,000). Hannity remained No. 2 in the demo, followed by The Five. The Ingraham Angle moved ahead of The Rachel Maddow Show in the key demo, with the shows finishing fourth and fifth in the measurement, respectively.

Fox News placed seven shows in the top 10 for May among adults 25-54, after placing only four the previous month.

CNN placed five shows in April’s top 10, but only two in May. Gutfeld!, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Primetime replaced The Lead with Jake Tapper and The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, and Erin Burnett Outfront.

Anderson Cooper 360 and Cuomo Primetime remained in the A25-54 top 10 for May, but posted the most significant month-to-month losses. In fact, not a single show in the May top 10 saw A25-54 audience growth from April.

Again, this is Nielsen live-plus-same-day data for May 2021 (top 10 Adults 25-54)

  1. Fox News| 8 p.m./ Tucker Carlson Tonight: 478,000/ 19 telecasts
  2. Fox News| 9 p.m. / Hannity: 416,000/ 19 telecasts
  3. Fox News| 5 p.m. / The Five: 369,000/ 21 telecasts
  4. Fox News| 10 p.m. / The Ingraham Angle: 356,000 / 18 telecasts
  5. MSNBC | 9 p.m. / The Rachel Maddow Show: 349,000
  6. Fox News | 11 p.m. / Gutfeld!: 291,000 /
  7. Fox News | 6 p.m. / Special Report with Bret Baier: 277,000 /
  8. Fox News | 7 p.m./ Fox News Primetime: 274,000 /
  9. CNN| 9 p.m./ Cuomo Primetime: 239,000 / 19 telecasts
  10. CNN| 8 p.m./ Anderson Cooper 360: 238,000 / 19 telecasts

May 2021 cable news show ranker (Adults 25-54)

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