It was a monster first quarter for CNN and MSNBC programming, with Rachel Maddow and Chris Cuomo leading the way. But Fox News returned to its usual spot atop the cable news heap in the second quarter of 2021, led by Tucker Carlson.
According to live-plus-same-day data from Nielsen, Fox News’ 8 p.m. offering Tucker Carlson Tonight was the No. 1 cable news show for the second quarter, not just in average total audience, but also among adults 25-54. Cable television’s top-rated host hauled in an average of 2.9 million total viewers and 487,000 adults 25-54 per original broadcast in Q2. That’s a decline from what the show delivered in Q1 ’21 and its cable news-record delivery in Q2 2020, but it’s still far more than what other cable news shows delivered in Q2.
Hannity was the second-ranked cable news show in Q2, averaging 2.65 million total viewers. The program finished No. 3 in total viewers the previous quarter, behind The Rachel Maddow Show and his lead-in Tucker Carlson Tonight.
Fox News’ panel show The Five moved from No. 4 to No. 3 in total viewers (2.63 million), with The Rachel Maddow Show (2.5 million) and The Ingraham Angle (2.07 million) rounding out the top five.
MSNBC’s powerhouse program was the most-watched show on cable news in Q1. That wasn’t the case in Q2.
Fox News Primetime (No. 8), and the network’s newest offering Gutfeld! (No.9) were also among cable news’ 10-most-watched shows for the quarter.
Seven of the top 10 in average total viewers are Fox News shows. The other three aired on MSNBC.
Here’s the rest of the top 10 in average total viewers for Q2, as per live-plus-same-day data.
- Fox News/8 p.m. / Tucker Carlson Tonight: 2,924,000 / 62 telecasts
- Fox News/9 p.m./Hannity: 2,653,000/56 telecasts
- Fox News/5 p.m./ The Five: 2,632,000/64 telecasts
- MSNBC/9 p.m./The Rachel Maddow Show: 2,504,000/62 telecasts
- Fox News/10 p.m./The Ingraham Angle: 2,071,000/57 telecasts
- Fox News/6 p.m./Special Report with Bret Baier: 1,810,000/64 telecasts
- MSNBC/10 p.m./The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell: 1,660,000/61 telecasts
- Fox News/7 p.m./Fox News Primetime: 1,568,000/63 telecasts
- Fox News/11 p.m./Gutfeld!: 1,503,000/56 telecasts
- MSNBC/8 p.m./All In with Chris Hayes: 1,477,000/61 telecasts
How about the top cable news shows among adults 25-54? After all, this is a demographic that advertisers of news often focus their millions on.
Tucker Carlson Tonight, which finished No. 3 in the demo in Q1, shot up to the top shot among adults 25-54 in Q2, averaging 487,000 from the measurement for each original broadcast.
The top three cable news shows for Q2 in total viewers (Tucker Carlson Tonight, Hannity and The Five) were also the top three in the key A25-54 demo. However, this time, The Ingraham Angle averaged more adults 25-54 than The Rachel Maddow Show.
The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell and All In with Chris Hayes, which finished in the top 10 among average total viewers, were No. 15 and No. 23, respectively, among adults 25-54.
While unable to place any of its programs in the top 10 among average total viewers, CNN places two shows in the top 10 for the quarter among adults 25-54: Anderson Cooper 360 and Cuomo Primetime. CNN’s 9 p.m. offering was the top-rated show among adults 25-54 in Q1, but tumbled to No. 10 in Q2.
As you’ll see, Fox News dominates the top 10 among adults 25-54 in Q2. CNN dominated this top 10 in Q1.
- Fox News/8 p.m. / Tucker Carlson Tonight: 487,000 / 62 telecasts
- Fox News/9 p.m./Hannity: 420,000 /56 telecasts
- Fox News/5 p.m./The Five: 385,000/64 telecasts
- Fox News/10 p.m/The Ingraham Angle: 361,000/57 telecasts
- MSNBC/9 p.m./The Rachel Maddow Show: 349,000/62 telecasts
- Fox News/11 p.m./Gutfeld!: 296,000/ 56 telecasts
- Fox News/6 p.m./Special Report with Bret Baier: 276,000/64 telecasts
- Fox News/7 p.m./Fox News Primetime: 262,000/63 telecasts
- CNN/8 p.m./Anderson Cooper 360: 259,000/64 telecasts
- CNN/9 p.m./Cuomo Primetime: 257,000/61 telecasts