Week of May 16 Basic Cable Ranker: Fox News Gains Total Viewers, Dominates Cable News Competition

By A.J. Katz 

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Fox News Channel was the most-watched basic cable network in total day and the third-most-watched in primetime during the week of May 16. The cable news powerhouse also averaged more total primetime viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined for the 45th consecutive week.

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, Fox News averaged 2.29 million total viewers in primetime this past week, No. 3 behind the networks broadcasting the NBA and NHL playoffs TNT and ESPN—and +3% from what the network averaged in the daypart the previous week (May 9). Fox News also averaged 350,000 adults 25-54 in primetime, which is up +6% from the week prior and No. 3 behind playoffs-carrying TNT (1.335 million), and ESPN (1.09 million)

Moving to total day, Fox News averaged 1.475 million total viewers in the 6 a.m.-6 a.m. daypart during the week of May 16, which is +1% from the network posted in the daypart the previous week. FNC also averaged 222,000 adults 25-54 in total day, No. 3 on basic cable behind ESPN (364,000) and TNT (359,000)—steady with the prior week.

CNN and MSNBC continue to struggle on the ratings front, at least by their respective standards.

MSNBC finished last week No. 4 on cable in total primetime viewers, failing to crack a million (910,000) for the third consecutive week. Prior to the week of May 2, MSNBC hadn’t averaged fewer than 1 million primetime viewers in a week (outside of holiday weeks) since 2016. The 910,000 primetime viewer average is -7% from what the network averaged in the daypart the previous week. MSNBC also averaged 603,000 total day viewers last week, No. 4 on basic cable and -3% from the prior week. When it came to adults 25-54, MSNBC averaged 90,000 in primetime this past week—which is -6% from the prior week—and 66,000 adults 25-54 in total day, which is -3% from the prior week.

Elsewhere in cable news land, CNN averaged 597,000 total viewers in primetime last week, down -1% from the week prior. CNN’s A25-54 viewership in primetime was -8% from the prior week. Additionally, in total day, CNN lost -4% in total viewers (466,000) and -4% in the key demo (95,000).

How did cable news’ “big three” fare relative to the same week in 2021? (Week of May 17)  Fox News gained +9% in average total primetime viewers and +4% from the primetime demo. The story in the 6 a.m.-6 a.m. total day daypart was even more positive, with the network gaining +27% in total viewers and +13% in the total day demo. CNN and MSNBC, which were giving Fox a run for their money at this time last year, continue to see losses from the year-ago week. CNN dropped -5% in average total primetime viewers, but a whopping -36% in the primetime demo, -18% in total day viewers and -27% in the total day demo. MSNBC shed -39% in average total primetime viewers, more than half of its A25-54 audience in primetime (-55%), to go with -28% in total day viewers and -18% in the total day demo vs. the year-ago week.

Week of May 16, 2022 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):

PRIME Fox News MSNBC CNN
• Total Viewers: 2,292,000 910,000 597,000
• A25-54: 350,000 90,000 123,000

 

 

 

TOTAL DAY Fox News MSNBC CNN
• Total Viewers: 1,475,000 603,000 466,000
• A25-54: 222,000 66,000 95,000

 

 

 

On the cable news programming front, Tucker Carlson Tonight dethroned The Five as the most-watched show on cable news, averaging 3.19 million total viewers at 8 p.m. this past week. Carlson also ranked No. 1 in cable news among the A25-54 demo with 505,000 viewers from the measurement. The Five took second place in total viewers, averaging 3.15 million at 5 p.m., Hannity at No. 3 ( 2.78 million viewers at 9 p.m.), Jesse Watters Primetime at No. 4 (2.61 million at 7 p.m.) and Special Report with Bret Baier (2.45 million viewers at 6 p.m.) rounding out the five-most-watched.

Fox News as a network secured the 15 most-watched cable news shows of the week and the entire top 15 among the key A25-54 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.).

Week of May 16 (Total Viewers)

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.).

Week of May 16 (Adults 25-54)

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