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Cable News Ratings: CNN, Fox News Gain Big in May; MSNBC Slides

FNC takes third in total viewers in all of primetime cable for the month

Fox News and CNN had a very merry month in May, ratings-wise. MSNBC? Not so much.

In a busy news month that included coverage of presidential candidates, protests in Baltimore and the Amtrak train crash in Philadelphia, Fox News and CNN enjoyed ratings boosts in May, while MSNBC suffered faltering numbers, according to Nielsen data.

In total day numbers, CNN posted big gains in May, averaging 438,000 total viewers and 144,000 viewers in the key 25-54 news demo. Those figures represent gains of 42 percent and 55 percent over year-ago numbers, respectively.

That left CNN in second place to Fox News, which also gained — although more modestly — in the total day numbers compared a year ago. For May, Fox averaged 982,000 total viewers, a 9 percent gain, and 194,000 demo viewers, a 10 percent gain.

By contrast, MSNBC averaged 299,000 total viewers and 83,000 demo viewers — drops of 9 percent and 19 percent, respectively.

In primetime, CNN and Fox also enjoyed gains over year-ago numbers, while MSNBC went in the other direction. For May, Fox News averaged 1.612 million total viewers in Sunday-Monday primetime, and 314,000 demo viewers, respectively. Those are gains of 11 percent and 42 percent respectively over a year ago. CNN averaged 576,000 total viewer and 213,000 demo viewers for the month, gains of 44 and 51 percent, respectively.

Fox News Channel was actually third in all of cable primetime for the month in total viewers, behind TNT and ESPN.

MSNBC, meanwhile, averaged 463,000 total viewers and 125,000 demo viewers in primetime for the month, drops of 14 and 18 percent, respectively.