Fox News Channel remained the dominant basic cable network in total day—and came in second place in total primetime viewership during the week of March 21. FNC also averaged more total viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined for the 32nd consecutive week.
According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, Fox News averaged 2.5 million total viewers in primetime this past week. That’s a big number, but -3% from the previous week and No. 2 behind NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament-driven TBS. FNC averaged 418,000 adults 25-54 in primetime, which is -4% from the week prior.
Additionally, Fox News averaged 1.65 million total viewers in total day during the week of March 21, which is -3% from what the network averaged the prior week—and 287,000 adults 25-54 in total day, a -4% drop from the prior week.
That’s consecutive weeks of audience losses after a stretch of huge ratings driven by live breaking news coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine’s early days. We have a hunch these week-to-week losses won’t last much longer.
However, Fox News wasn’t the only network to post audience losses from the prior week. In fact, its week-to-week losses were less severe than that one of its main competitors experienced.
CNN, which has benefited more from its coverage of the breaking news event than any other network, averaged 889,000 total viewers in primetime last week, No. 5 on all of basic cable. However that 889,000 figure is -12% from the previous week, when the network averaged more than a million viewers in the daypart. The network also averaged 712,000 total day viewers, No. 4 on all of cable this past and -5% from the prior week. The network shed -14% among adults 25-54 watching in primetime (241,000)—and -7% among adults 25-54 watching in total day (173,000). Perhaps a bit of Ukraine war coverage fatigue is setting in, or perhaps the more casual viewers who were watching CNN are checking out the NCAA tournament instead. Perhaps a combination of both.
MSNBC, which hasn’t seen the type of audience growth from its coverage of the Ukraine war that its competitors have, actually posted week-to-week viewer growth. The network averaged 1.15 million primetime viewers this past week, No. 3 on all of basic cable, behind NCAA Tournament-driven TBS, and Fox News. MSNBC’s 1.15 million viewer average is +7% from the prior week. The network also averaged 736,000 total day viewers, more than CNN and +8% from the prior week, as well as 151,000 adults 25-54 in primetime (+5%) and 89,000 adults 25-54 in total day (+5%) this past week.
Week of March 21, 2022 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):
|• Total Viewers:||2,499,000||1,153,000||889,000|
|TOTAL DAY||Fox News||MSNBC||CNN|
|• Total Viewers:||1,646,000||736,000||729,000|
On the cable news programming front, Fox News’ The Five was the most-watched show on cable news this past week, averaging 3.51 million total viewers at 5 p.m. Tucker Carlson Tonight (which finished No. 1 last week) took second place in total viewers, averaging 3.45 million, with Hannity (2.95 million), Jesse Watters Primetime (2.825 million) and Special Report with Bret Baier (2.6 million) rounding out the top five in average total viewers.
Fox News had the 13-most-watched cable news shows of the week. MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show (featuring rotating guest hosts) ranked No. 14 in average total viewers (1.54 million). Fox had the 13-most-watched cable news shows among adults 25-54, led by Carlson (600,000). CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 came in at No. 11, averaging 291,000 adults 25-54 at 8 p.m.
Outside of cable news, TBS was the No. 1 cable network for the week in primetime both in total viewers (2.905 million) and among adults 25-54 (344,000). TBS earned first place in the primetime cable rankings thanks to its live coverage of 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. TBS was followed by Fox News, MSNBC, HGTV and CNN. Among adults 25-54, TBS was followed again by Fox News and ESPN, then TNT and Discovery.
TBS ranked No. 1 among adults 25-54 in the total day daypart (6 a.m.-6 a.m.), averaging 344,000. Fox News took second (287,000), followed by ESPN (204,000), CNN (173,000) and Food Network (154,000) rounding out the top five among the total day demo.
Additionally, below are the most-watched basic cable networks for the week. The left column is ranked by most to fewest average total primetime viewers—and the right column is ranked by most to fewest average total viewers across total day (6 a.m-6 a.m.).
Finally, the left column below is ranked by most to fewest average adults 25-54 watching in primetime— and the right column is ranked by most to fewest adults 25-54 watching across total day (6 a.m-6 a.m.).