Week of June 5 Basic Cable Ranker: For First Time Since 2018, MSNBC Beats Fox News and CNN in Primetime Demo and Total Viewers

By A.J. Katz 

MSNBC has been threatening Fox News’ cable news ratings supremacy in recent weeks. Disaffected CNN viewers have steadily moved over to left-leaning primetime hosts Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Lawrence O’Donnell and Alex Wagner, while right-leaning Fox News has lost some viewers in primetime following the exit of Tucker Carlson.

While the Nielsen ratings gap between Fox News and MSNBC had tightened considerably in recent weeks, Fox News had remained No. 1.

However, the Donald Trump indictment announcement on Thursday night and in-depth coverage in the days following proved to be the extra boost MSNBC needed to reach the ratings summit, which it officially did during the week of June 5, 2023.


MSNBC, for the first time since 2018, beat Fox News and CNN in primetime among adults 25-54 and total viewers. It was the most-watched basic cable network in primetime this past week, averaging 1.52 million total viewers — its largest average primetime audience since the 2022 midterm elections. MSNBC also averaged 172,000 adults 25-54 in primetime, more than its cable news rivals and No. 8 on all of basic cable.

MSNBC did remain second this past week in total day viewing this past week, however, edged by rival Fox News (932,000 vs. 1.09 million). The network’s 109,000 adults 25-54 average in total day is also fewer than Fox News and No. 7 on basic cable.

How do these figures stack up against comparable weeks? Relative to the week prior (beginning on Memorial Day May 29),  MSNBC is +53% in total primetime viewers and +40% in total day viewers, +70% among adults 25-54 in primetime and +43% among adults 25-54 in total day. The network also posted year-over-year viewer gains, which had been the case even prior to the highly-rated Trump indictment coverage. MSNBC gained +5% in total primetime viewers, +7% in the primetime demo, +24% in total day viewers and +31% in the total day demo versus the week of June 6, 2022.

A remarkable week for the network.

Fox News, as previously mentioned, was the second most-watched basic cable network in primetime this past week (1.505 million), finishing behind MSNBC in total viewers for the first time since February 2021. That said, Fox improved to No. 1 in total day viewers this week (1.09 million), ranked No. 17 in the primetime demo (139,000 viewers), and No. 3 in the total day demo (127,000 viewers).

While Fox News fell behind MSNBC in primetime for the first time in 120 weeks, it actually delivered week-to-week ratings gains. Its 1.505 million total primetime viewer average is +11% from the prior week; 139,000 A25-54 average in primetime is +7% from the prior week; its 1.09 million in total day viewing is +8% from the prior week and the network’s 127,000 A25-54 delivery in total day is +9% from the prior week. However, the year-over-year trend remains poor. The network posted a -34% decline in total primetime viewers, -61% decline in the primetime demo, -25% in total day viewers and -44% in the total day demo vs. the year-ago week.

CNN remains in third place, but saw audience gains of its own, driven by special coverage of the Trump indictment. The network averaged 677,000 total primetime viewers, No. 8 on basic cable and up +32% from the prior week; 131,000 A25-54 viewers in primetime, No. 19 on basic cable and +38% from the prior week; 491,000 total day viewers, No. 3 on basic cable and +20% from the prior week; 94,000 A25-54 viewers in total day, tied No. 10 on basic cable with TV Land and +24% from the prior week.

Despite the heavy breaking news week, CNN, like Fox News, remains down from the year-ago week. The network is -20% in total primetime viewers, -40% in the primetime demo, -2% in total day viewers and -17% in the total day demo vs. the week of June 6, 2022.

Week of June 5 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):

• Total Viewers: 1,505,000 1,521,000 677,000
• A25-54: 139,000 172,000 131,000




• Total Viewers: 1,090,000 932,000 491,000
• A25-54: 127,000 109,000 94,000




Despite MSNBC’s monster primetime performance, The Five is once again the No. 1 show on cable news, averaging 2.61 million total viewers at 5 p.m. this past week.

Fox News had six of the 10 most-watched cable news shows of the week. Jesse Watters Primetime moved up a spot to No. 2 in total viewers with a two million viewer average at 7 p.m. Hannity secured third place with a 1.92 million total viewer average at 9 p.m., edging MSNBC timeslot competitor Alex Wagner Tonight (1.78 million at 9 p.m.) and Special Report with Bret Baier’s 1.72 million average at 6 p.m. rounds out cable news’ top five.

MSNBC’s Deadline: White House with Nicolle Wallace took sixth place (1.68 million from 4-6 p.m.), with MSNBC’s The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell coming in at No. 7, The Beat With Ari Melber (1.64 million at 6 p.m.), followed by Fox News Tonight (1.63 million at 8 p.m.), The Ingraham Angle (1.63 million at 10 p.m.) and All In With Chris Hayes (1.605 million at 8 p.m.) rounding out the top 10.

In addition to being No. 1 in total viewers, The Five is also No. 1 on cable news among adults 25-54, averaging 271,000 from the measurement at 5 p.m. this past week. However, MSNBC had six of the top 10 cable news shows of the week among Adults 25-54, including The ReidOut. In fact, each MSNBC show airing from 6 until 11 p.m., averaged more A25-54 than its timeslot competition.

Lastly, below are the basic cable network rankers — sorted by average total viewers followed by A25-54.

Week of June 5 (Total Viewers)

Week of June 5 (Adults 25-54)