It has been an extraordinary three month span for cable news, particularly from a ratings perspective. The triumvirate of Fox News, CNN and MSNBC all finished in cable’s top 10 in total viewers for Q1 of 2017.
Fox News completed Q1’17 as the most-watched basic cable network in both prime time and total day viewers, and marked 61 quarters as the top news network in prime time and Total Day, per Nielsen. It was also the network’s best quarter ever in terms of Total Day viewers.
In both dayparts during Q1’17, FNC was up double-digits compared to the same quarter last year, up +27 percent in Total Day viewers and +32 percent in the 25-54 demo. In prime time, FNC marked its second most-watched quarter, +20 percent in total viewers and +19 percent in the prime time demo. For the quarter, FNC dominated the cable news competition across the board.
ESPN was the second-most-watched cable network in prime time, followed by HGTV, USA, TBS, MSNBC, Discovery, History, TNT and CNN.
Nickelodeon was the second-most-watched cable network in Total Day, followed by ESPN, HGTV, Adult Swim, CNN, Investigation Discovery, USA, MSNBC and Nick-at-Nite.
Back on the cable news side – CNN ranks No. 10 across cable in total prime time audience, and the No. 6 network in Total Day audience for the quarter. In prime time, the network posted a -17 percent decline in total viewers, and an -11 percent decline in the prime time demo relative to last year. The viewership decline has more to do with the fact that during the same 3-month period in 2016, CNN televised 12 prime time political events. The network managed year-over-year gains in Total Day, +12 percent in total viewers and +22 percent in the demo.
MSNBC averaged more total viewers in Q1 2017 than in any previous quarter in network history. MSNBC grew more than its competition, +61 percent in prime time viewers and up +49 percent in the prime time demo versus the same quarter in 2016. The network ranks No. 6 in total prime time viewers, and No. 9 in Total Day.
HLN ranks No. 46 in prime time, and No. 39 in Total Day for Q1 ’17.
CNBC ranks No. 45 in prime time, and No. 59 in Total Day for Q1 ’17.
Fox Business Network ranks No. 80 in prime time, and No. 61 in Total Day for Q1 ’17.