Week of May 30 Basic Cable Ranker: Fox News Returns to No. 1 in Total Primetime Viewers

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News Channel was the most-watched basic cable network in total day (1.33 million) and in primetime (2.01 million) during the week of May 30, which started with the Memorial Day holiday. The cable news powerhouse also averaged more total primetime viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined for the 47th consecutive week, according to live-plus-same-day data from Nielsen.

As expected, viewership was down from the previous week for all three major cable news outlets. Fox News’ 2 million total viewer average in primetime is -9% from what the network averaged in the daypart during the non-holiday week of May 23. Fox also averaged 290,000 adults 25-54 in primetime, which is -20% from the week prior and No. 3 behind networks broadcasting postseason play, ESPN (674,000) and TNT (527,000).

Moving to total day, Fox News’ 1.33 million total viewer average is -8% from the network posted in the daypart the previous week. FNC also averaged 203,000 adults 25-54 in total day, No. 2 on basic cable behind ESPN (252,000) and -12% 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. 9 on basic cable with an 800,000 primetime viewer average. That’s the network’s lowest finish in the daypart in quite some time—and is -22% from what the network averaged in the daypart the previous week. MSNBC also averaged 556,000 total day viewers this past week, No. 3 on basic cable and -16% from the prior week. When it came to adults 25-54, MSNBC averaged only 71,000 in primetime this past week (No. 43 on basic cable). That’s -35% from the prior week. The network also averaged 58,000 adults 25-54 in total day, which is -26% from the prior week and No. 33 overall on basic cable. The 71,000 and 58,000 in the aforementioned measurements represents MSNBC’s lowest number in each since 1999.

Elsewhere in cable news land, CNN averaged 603,000 total viewers in primetime last week, down -19% from the week prior. CNN’s A25-54 viewership in primetime (122,000) was -40% from the prior week. Additionally, in total day, CNN lost -16% in total viewers (458,000) and -26% in the key demo (96,000). CNN had its lowest-rated Monday-Friday since the Obama administration.

How did cable news’ “big three” fare relative to the same week in 2021? (Week of May 31)  Fox News gained +2% in average total primetime viewers and shed -2% 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 a solid +20% in total viewers and +7% 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 -23% in average total primetime viewers and -27% in the primetime demo, -17% in total day viewers and -20% in the total day demo. MSNBC struggled the most relative to 2021, -37% in average total primetime viewers, losing more than half of its A25-54 audience in primetime (-55%), to go with -26% in total day viewers and -41% in the total day demo vs. the year-ago week, which also started on Memorial Day.

Week of May 30, 2022 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):

• Total Viewers: 2,010,000 800,000 603,000
• A25-54: 290,000 71,000 122,000




• Total Viewers: 1,330,000 556,000 458,000
• A25-54: 203,000 58,000 96,000




On the cable news programming front, The Five was the most-watched show of the week, both in total viewers (3.19 million) and among adults 25-54 (469,000). Tucker Carlson Tonight came in second in average total viewers (2.97 million), followed by Jesse Watters Primetime at No. 3  (2.53 million viewers at 9 p.m.), Hannity at No. 4 (2.46 million at 7 p.m.) and Special Report with Bret Baier (2.285 million viewers at 6 p.m.) rounding out the five-most-watched. Hannity averaged the third-most adults 25-54 on cable news (349,000), edging Jesse Watters Primetime (348,000) and The Ingraham Angle/Special Report (321,000 each).

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 30 (Total Viewers)

Below is another network ranker, this one sorted by most to fewest adults 25-54:

Week of May 30 (Adults 25-54)