May Ratings: Fox News Tops Basic Cable But MSNBC Grows 93 Percent

Rupert Murdoch’s network is most watched among cable news for 185th consecutive month

Fox News topped all of basic cable among total viewers for the month of May, averaging 1.4 million viewers despite a strong push from rival MSNBC.

Nickelodeon averaged 1.1 million total viewers to finish second, while MSNBC came in third with an average viewership of 922,000. TNT and CNN join Fox news, Nickelodeon and MSNBC among the top five. With the win, Rupert Murdoch’s network has been the most-watched cable news network for 185 consecutive months and the most-watched network in all of cable, not just news, for 11 straight months.

During the primetime hours of 8-11 p.m., the NBA Playoffs-heavy TNT averaged 2.6 million total viewers to beat out Fox News’ 2.2 million for the top spot. MSNBC finished third, averaging 1.7 million viewers, followed by ESPN and HGTV.

President Trump is helping the entire cable news industry draw viewers, but none more than the progressive MSNBC, which grew a whopping 93 percent in total day viewing and 105 percent in primetime compared to the same month last year. Fox News and CNN also grew across the board, but not as significantly as MSNBC.

Fox News grew 22 percent in total viewers and 11 percent in primetime, while CNN grew 41 percent in total day viewing and 26 percent from 8-11 p.m. In fairness, Fox News was dominating the competition a year ago and CNN was packed with political events during the election year, so they didn’t have as much room to grow — but MSNBC’s steep growth is impressive nonetheless.

In fact, MSNBC won the weekday cable news crown during primetime for the month of May among the key demo of adults age 25-54. During weekday primetime, MSNBC averaged 532,000 viewers compared to CNN’s 455,000 and Fox News’ 524,000. However, cable ratings are typically judged using all seven days, and Fox News won the primetime demo when factoring in weekend programming.

Fox News averaged 453,000 primetime viewers among the demo, compared to 417,000 for MSNBC. CNN finished third, averaging 399,000. Among total day demo viewership, Fox News picked up another victory, averaging 302,000 compared to 274,000 for CNN and 221,000 for MSNBC.

Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” finished the month as the most-watched program in cable news among total viewers, averaging 2.7 million. MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” topped the demo, averaging 637,000.

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