Week of May 9 Basic Cable Ranker: Fox News Is Most-Watched in Total Day, Top 5 Among Primetime Demo

By A.J. Katz 

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Fox News Channel was the most-watched basic cable network in total day and the second-most-watched in primetime during the week of May 9. The cable news powerhouse also averaged more total viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined for the 39th consecutive week.

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, Fox News averaged 2.225 million total viewers in primetime this past week, No. 2 behind TNT. The 2.225 million figure is -3% from what the network averaged in the daypart the previous week (May 2). Fox News also averaged 331,000 adults 25-54 in primetime, which is -6% from the week prior and No. 4 behind the networks carrying the NBA and NHL playoffs, which are TNT (1.59 million), ESPN (952,000) and TBS (387,000).

Moving to total day, Fox News averaged 1.47 million total viewers in the 6 a.m.-6 a.m. daypart during the week of May 9, 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 TNT (406,000) and ESPN (355,000)—and -8% 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 (983,000) for the second 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 983,000 primetime viewer average is -1% from what the network averaged in the daypart the previous week. MSNBC also averaged 621,000 total day viewers last week, No. 4 on basic cable and -1% from the prior week. When it came to adults 25-54, MSNBC averaged 96,000 in primetime this past week—which is -10% from the prior week—and 68,000 adults 25-54 in total day, which is 1% from the prior week.

Elsewhere in cable news land, CNN averaged 604,000 total viewers in primetime last week, No. 13 on all of basic cable and just -1,000 fewer viewers (less than -1%) than the week prior. CNN’s A25-54 viewership in primetime was actually up +2% from the prior week (133,000 – No. 22 on basic cable). In total day, CNN gained +1% in total viewers (485,000 – No. 6 on basic cable), but lost -3% in the key demo (99,000 – No. 14).

How did cable news’ “big three” fare relative to the same week in 2021? (Week of May 10)  Fox shed 5% in average total primetime viewers and -10% from the primetime demo. The story in total day remains positive, however, with the network gaining +13% in total viewers and slightly less than +1% 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 double-digit dips from the year-ago week. CNN dropped -35% in average total primetime viewers, -40% in the primetime demo, -24% in total day viewers and -36% in the total day demo. MSNBC shed -34% in average total primetime viewers, nearly half of its A25-54 audience in primetime (-49%), to go with -25% in total day viewers and -36% in the total day demo vs. the year-ago week.

Week of May 9, 2022 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):

PRIME Fox News MSNBC CNN
• Total Viewers: 2,225,000 983,000 604,000
• A25-54: 331,000 96,000 133,000

 

 

 

TOTAL DAY Fox News MSNBC CNN
• Total Viewers: 1,466,000 621,000 485,000
• A25-54: 222,000 68,000 99,000

 

 

 

On the cable news programming front, Fox News’ The Five remained the most-watched show on cable news, averaging 3.24 million total viewers at 5 p.m. this past week. Tucker Carlson Tonight took second place in total viewers, averaging 3.06 million at 8 p.m., Hannity at No. 3 ( 2.65 million viewers at 9 p.m.), Jesse Watters Primetime at No. 4 (2.46 million at 7 p.m.), and Special Report with Bret Baier (2.375 million viewers at 6 p.m.) rounding out the five-most-watched.

MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show was the sole non-Fox show to break cable news’ top 10, coming in at No. 6 in total viewers with a 2.16 million average at 9 p.m.—and No. 8 among adults 25-54 with a 277,000 average.

Tucker Carlson Tonight remained the top-rated cable news show among adults 25-54—averaging 461,000 this past week—and Fox News as a network secured 9 of the 10-most-watched cable news shows of the week and 14 of the top 15 in 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 9 (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 9 (Adults 25-54)

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