During the week of March 29, Fox News was the most-watched cable network and the top-rated cable news network in prime time, averaging nearly 2.2 million viewers and 358,000 in the 25-54 demo during the 8-11 p.m. ET time period.
Tucker Carlson averaged the largest audience on cable news for the week, averaging 2.9 million total viewers to go with 492,000 adults 25-54.
In total day (6 a.m.-6 a.m. ET), FNC delivered 1.2 million viewers and 204,000 in the 25-54 demographic.
While Fox dominated its cable news competition in total viewers and in the demo during prime time, it came up short to CNN in the demo across total day.
Compared to the prior week (March 22), Fox News lost -4% in total prime time viewers, but gained +2% in the prime time demo. In total day, Fox News shed -3% in total viewers, but gained +3% among adults 25-54.
That said, the network still isn’t quite where it was at this time last year. The comparable week in 2020 (week of March 30) featured early Covid-19 pandemic coverage, which caused Americans to flock to their TV sets. Additionally, all three networks aired the White House daily coronavirus task force briefings during that week. Compared to the year ago week, Fox News shed -46% of its average total prime time audience, and was down -53% in the prime time demo. In total day, the network fell -52% in total viewers, and -62% in the demo. Fox (and its competitors) will very likely be seeing ratings losses through the spring, unless a major breaking news event happens.
CNN remains the second-highest-rated cable newser among adults 25-54 in prime time, but climbed to No. 1 in the demo across total day this past week. The network remains third behind both Fox News and MSNBC in total viewers.
Compared to the prior week, CNN dropped -8% of its average total prime time audience, but grew +2% in the prime time demo. In total day, the network grew +8% in total viewers, and +17% the key A25-54 demo. This growth in total day viewership makes sense. CNN has been airing coverage of the Derek Chauvin murder trial during the day, a breaking news event that attracts more younger, casual news consumers to the network than usual. On the downside for CNN, compared to the same week the previous year, the network shed more than half of its average total prime time audience (-54%) and dropped by -23% in the prime time demo. In total day, the network fell -47% in total viewers from last year, and dropped -57% in the total day demo.
Once again the second-most-watched network on all of basic cable, MSNBC, like CNN, continues to see predictable ratings losses as we ease further into the new, less-chaotic presidential administration. However, like CNN, it did see some growth from the previous week in total day viewing, thanks to daytime coverage of the Chauvin murder trial. Compared to the prior week, MSNBC grew +2% in total day viewers, and +17% in the total day demo. The network also grew +5% in the prime time demo, but lost -4% in total prime time viewers.
Versus the same week in 2020, MSNBC shed -22% of its average total prime time audience, -67% of its prime time demo audience, fell -25% in total day viewers and -36% in the total day demo.
The week of March 29, 2021, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):
|PRIME TIME||Fox News||MSNBC||CNN|
|• Total Viewers:||2,186,000||1,639,000||1,023,000|
|TOTAL DAY||Fox News||MSNBC||CNN|
|• Total Viewers:||1,198,000||1,019,000||816,000|
After Fox News and MSNBC, March Madness-carrying networks TBS (men’s) and ESPN (women’s) followed in average total viewership for the week. HGTV, CNN, History, Hallmark Channel, Food Network and TLC round out the top 10 in prime time.
In total day viewership, cable news rules; after Fox News, MSNBC and CNN, comes HGTV, ESPN, TBS, ID, Hallmark Channel, Food Network and History in that order.
Among adults 25-54, TBS led the way thanks to March Madness coverage, and was followed by ESPN (which had women’s March Madness coverage), Fox News, USA, HGTV, Food Network, History, TLC, Adult Swim and TNT. That’s three WarnerMedia networks in the top 10. CNN did not make it, coming in at No. 11 in the prime time demo. MSNBC ranked No. 13.
In total day among adults 25-54, TBS and ESPN led the charge, followed by CNN, Fox News, ID, HGTV, Food Network, USA, TNT and MSNBC.