Week of March 27 Cable Ratings: Trump Indictment Provides Cable News With Ratings Bump; Fox News Stays Put at No. 1

By A.J. Katz 

Cable news saw a collective bump in viewership last week driven by Thursday’s breaking news that former President Trump was being indicted by a New York grand jury over allegations that he had made hush-money payments to two women just days before the 2016 presidential election.

MSNBC saw the most significant week-to-week audience bump (with CNN following close behind), but Fox News remained No. 1 in the cable news ratings race during the week of March 27.

FNC averaged the most total day viewers and the most primetime viewers on basic cable this past week. According to Nielsen live plus same day data for the week of March 27 2023, Fox News averaged 1.41 million total day viewers and 179,000 A25-54 viewers in total day. The 179,000 from the total day demo is No. 2 on basic cable behind NCAA Women’s tournament-carrying ESPN.


After a week in second place, Fox News regained its status as the most-watched basic cable network in primetime, averaging 2.32 million viewers. In addition to averaging 2.32 million total, FNC averaged 283,000 Adults 25-54, which is No. 2 on basic cable behind ESPN (596,000).

How do those figures fare against comparable weeks?

Fox News gained viewers across dayparts from  the prior week (March 20). In primetime, the network gained +13% in total viewers and +21% in A25-54. In total day, the network gained +8% in total viewers and +16% among Adults 25-54. As expected, the breaking news event influenced more growth in the A25-54 demo than among older viewers.

Fox trended in the wrong direction on a year-over-year basis. The network shed -8% in total primetime viewers, -26% of its audience from the primetime demo, -13% in total day viewers, and -34% of its audience from the total day demo versus the week of March 28, 2022.

Despite finishing behind Fox News, MSNBC had a strong ratings week overall. The network saw especially strong gains with viewers under 55 that were driven primarily by the Trump indictment breaking news story.

MSNBC remained No. 3 in total primetime viewers among ad-supported cablers this past week, averaging 1.46 million in the daypart. The network improved to second place on basic cable in total day viewers with 877,000 on average.

MSNBC moved in front CNN in the key A25-54 demo, not only in primetime (172,000 vs. 149,000), but even in total day (110,000 vs. 109,000). The network improved from No. 22 to No. 12 on basic cable in the primetime demo, and climbed from No. 11 to No. 6 on basic cable in the total day demo, averaging 110,000 A25-54 viewers in the daypart.

MSNBC posted another week of audience gains in multiple measurements, +20% in total primetime viewers and +14% in total day viewers, +22% in the total day demo and +51% in the primetime demo. Relative to the year-ago week (March 28, 2022), MSNBC is up an impressive +29% in total primetime viewers and +26% in total day viewers, +33% in the primetime demo and +41% in the total day demo.

CNN saw audience growth, as is often the case when the news cycle is heavy. The network finished No. 11 on basic cable in average total primetime viewers (623,000) up three spots from the prior week, and No. 4 in total day viewers (510,000), up two spots from the prior week. CNN finished the week No. 15 among Adults 25-54 in primetime , up six spots from the week prior, and No. 7 in total day demo, up four spots from the week prior. However, the network did finish behind MSNBC not only in total viewers, but in Adults 25-54 during primetime and in total day.

How did CNN fare against relative weeks? Compared to the prior week, CNN gained +16% in total primetime viewers, +28% in the primetime demo, +9% in total day viewers and +21% in the total day demo. On the downside, relative to the year-ago week, CNN is -15% in total primetime viewers, -18% among A25-54 in primetime, -18% in total day total viewers and -23% among A25-54 watching across total day.

Week of March 27, 2023 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):

• Total Viewers: 2,324,000 1,459,000 623,000
• A25-54: 283,000 172,000 149,000




• Total Viewers: 1,409,000 877,000 510,000
• A25-54: 179,000 110,000 109,000




In terms of individual programming, Tucker Carlson Tonight marked its fourth consecutive week as cable news’ most-watched show, averaging 3.36 million total viewers at 8 p.m. this past week.

The Five came in second with an average of 3.17 million viewers at 5 p.m. Hannity moved into third place by averaging 2.84 million total viewers at 9 p.m. Jesse Watters Primetime secured fourth place (2.78 million at 7 p.m.), with MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show–which aired three times last week at 9 p.m.–rounding out cable news’ top five with a 2.44 million total viewer average.

Fox News had eight of the 10 most-watched cable news shows of the week, with The Beat with Ari Melber taking ninth place (1.75 million at 6 p.m.).

Carlson continues to draw the most Adults 25-54 on cable news, averaging 425,000 viewers from the measurement this past week. The Five came in second with 359,000 A25-54 viewers on average at 5 p.m., Hannity (347,000 at 9 p.m.), Gutfeld! (313,000 at 11 p.m.) and The Ingraham Angle (306,000 at 10 p.m.) round out the top five in the key A25-54 demo.

Fox News had the top seven cable news shows among Adults 25-54. TRMS took eighth place (272,000) and Anderson Cooper 360 took ninth (217,000) among the demo.

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

Week of March 27 (Total Viewers)

Week of March 27 (Adults 25-54)