Despite controversy swirling around the network’s coverage of the news, Fox News Channel marked its 101st consecutive week as the top cable news network in total day viewers and Adults 25-54.
Not only is Fox News still No. 1 on cable news, but the channel is No. 1 in all of basic cable both in total day viewers (1.36 million) and in total primetime viewers (2.24 million).
According to Nielsen live plus same day data for the week of March 6, 2023, Fox News also averaged 172,000 Adults 25-54 in total day (behind ESPN) and 274,000 Adults 25-54 in primetime (behind ESPN and TNT).
How do those figures fare against comparable weeks?
Fox News gained viewers in primetime, with Tucker Carlson Tonight seeing its highest-rated week since the 2022 midterm elections, which viewer growth driven by controversy around the host and his Jan. 6 insurrection tape release broadcasts. FNC primetime overall gained +7% in total viewers and +8% in A25-54 from the previous week (week of Feb. 27). The ratings story wasn’t quite as positive in total day, as the network shed -1% in total viewers and -3% among Adults 25-54. Fox’s week-to-week trend is still better than that of its competitors, as we’ll show later.
Fox trended in the wrong direction on a year-over-year basis. The decline makes sense considering cable news consisted of in-depth coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The network shed -21% in total primetime viewers, -48% in primetime A25-54 viewers, -25% in total day viewers, and -51% in total day A25-54 viewers from the week of March 7, 2022.
MSNBC remained No. 3 in total primetime viewers among ad-supported cablers, averaging 1.09 million this past week. The network placed second in total day viewers for the seventh consecutive week with 673,000. MSNBC marked back to back weeks ahead of CNN in primetime Adults 25-54 (108,000 vs. 95,000). The network dropped from No. 25 to tied for No. 27 in primetime demo with Adult Swim. MSNBC tied FX for No. 24 in the total day demo, averaging 71,000 viewers in the measurement this past week.
MSNBC shed -4% in total primetime viewers, gained +2% in primetime A25-54 viewers, but lost -3% in total day viewers and -7% in total day A25-54 viewers. Relative to the year-ago week (March 7, 2022), however, MSNBC is -11% in total primetime viewers, -39% in the primetime demo, -13% in total day viewers and -34% in the total day demo.
CNN had a poor ratings week. The network dropped three spots to No. 17 in total primetime viewers, drawing a 442,000 total viewer average, and dropped one spot down to No. 5 in total day viewing with a 408,000 viewer average. CNN fell six spots to No. 33 in primetime Adults 25-54, posting a 95,000 viewer average in the daypart. That’s tied with Paramount Network. The network actually jumped up one spot to No. 15 in the total day demo, averaging 81,000 viewers from the measurement this past week. That’s tied with Hallmark Channel and Nickelodeon.
Compared to the prior week, CNN lost -17% in total primetime viewers, -10% in the primetime demo, -9% in total day viewers and -4% in the total day demo.
When there’s a major news event CNN taking place, traditionally sees the sharpest audience growth. When the news cycle is quieter, CNN ratings are lower. Without a major breaking news event to cover, and Nielsen ratings erosion for the network in general, CNN saw steeper year-over-year losses than its competition. The network is -61% in total primetime viewers, -72% among A25-54 in primetime, -54% in total day total viewers and -65% among A25-54 watching across total day vs. the year-ago week.
Week of March 6, 2023 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):
|• Total Viewers:||2,237,000||1,088,000||442,000|
|TOTAL DAY||Fox News||MSNBC||CNN|
|• Total Viewers:||1,359,000||673,000||408,000|
In terms of individual programming, Tucker Carlson Tonight moved to No.1 in total viewers. The sharp audience increases are likely due (in least in part) to the Jan. 6 insurrection tape release broadcasts. TCT averaged 3.57 million total viewers at 8 p.m. last week, the show’s largest average total audience since November 2022.
The Five came in second with an average of 3.08 million viewers at 5 p.m. during the week of March 6. Jesse Watters Primetime remained third (2.695 million at 7 p.m.), with Hannity (2.645 million at 9 p.m.), and Special Report with Bret Baier (2.27 million at 6 p.m.) rounding out the top five.
Carlson continues to draw the most adults 25-54 on cable news, averaging 469,000 viewers from the measurement this past week. The Five came in second with 330,000 viewers at 5 p.m., with Hannity (317,000) Gutfeld! (308,000) and Jesse Watters Primetime (277,000) rounding out the top five in the key A25-54 demo.
Fox News had the 10-most-watched cable news shows, 13 of the top 15, and 86 of the 100 most-watched telecasts for the week of March 6. MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell moves up one spot to No. 11 with 1.37 million at 10 p.m., and The Beat with Ari Melber improved to No. 13 with 1.35 million at 6 p.m.
Additionally, Fox News had at least the top 15 cable news shows of the week among Adults 25-54.
Below, the basic cable network rankers — sorted by average total viewers followed by A25-54.
Week of March 6 (Total Viewers)