May 2021 Ratings: Fox News Continues to Average the Largest Audience on Cable, But Saw Losses From April

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News was the most-watched cable network for the month of May, and out-performed MSNBC and CNN in total day and prime time among total viewers and adults 25-54 for the third consecutive month.

In prime time, Fox averaged 2.17 million viewers, and 345,000 in the 25-54 demographic. In total day, FNC garnered an average of 1.19 million viewers, and 203,000 adults 25-54.

How does that stack up against comparable months? Compared to the prior month (April 2021), the network lost -3% of its average total prime time audience, -6% of its prime time audience from the demo, shed -3% total day viewers, and -5% of its average A25-54 audience across the 24-hour day.

So, while yes Fox remains the most-watched network on cable, it wasn’t exactly a phenomenal month by the network’s lofty standards.

What about the year-over-year trend? Like MSNBC and CNN, the trends weren’t great. Again, 2020 was a landmark year for cable news on the ratings front. Expect these year-over-year losses to continue throughout 2021. Fox shed -37% of its average total prime time audience, -38% of its audience from the prime time demo, dropped -37% in total day viewers and -38% in the total day demo  vs. May 2020.

In addition to pandemic coverage, it’s worth remembering that May 2020 featured continuous coverage of nationwide protests spurred by the police murder of George Floyd.

The average Nielsen live + same day impressions for April 2021:

  • Prime time (Mon-Sun): 2,166,000 viewers / 345,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 1,187,000 total viewers / 203,000 A25-54

On the programming front— During May, FNC claimed seven of the top 10 cable news programs in overall viewers, the top four in the key 25-54 demo and comprised 59 of the top 100 cable telecasts overall.

Tucker Carlson Tonight was the No. 1 cable news show of the month, both in total viewers (2.9 million) and among adults 25-54 (478,000). Hannity moved past The Five and back into second place in total viewers. After The Five, The Rachel Maddow Show and The Ingraham Angle rounded out the top five. Hannity finished second in cable news among adults 25-54, ahead of The Five, The Ingraham Angle and The Rachel Maddow Show.

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