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‘Hannity’ Carries Fox News to Double-Digit Primetime Viewer Growth in Third Quarter

MSNBC also grows overall audience as CNN sheds eyeballs

When Fox News Channel celebrates its 22nd anniversary this weekend, it will undoubtedly toast to the recent July-September period when it scored another strong quarter in Nielsen TV ratings. The cable news network saw its primetime viewers grow 14 percent above Q3 2017, thanks mostly to Sean Hannity’s return to 9 p.m.

“Hannity” made FNC the only cable news channel to grow in the advertiser-coveted 25-54 demographic year over year, with Fox experiencing a 3 percent boost in 8-11 p.m. ET averages. CNN and MSNBC both declined double digits — down 12 percent and 10 percent, respectively — there.

CNN also shed total viewers versus Q3 of ’17, though MSNBC grew its overall audience comparison by 6 percent. Kudos to Rachel Maddow & Co. for their own accomplishment.

All told, Fox News won outright in both primetime and across Nielsen’s total-day measurement. The third quarter of 2018 was the 67th straight quarter that Fox News Channel averaged the most total viewers across both primetime and total day. See the raw stats below.

Total Day
FNC: 1,401,000 total viewers – up 3% (270,000 in 25-54 – down 9%)
CNN: 722,000 total viewers – down 9% (213,000 in 25-54 – down 19%)
MSNBC: 1,042,000 total viewers – up 10% (195,000 in 25-54 – down 9%)

Primetime (8-11 p.m. ET)
FNC: 2,457,000 total viewers – up 14% (450,000 in 25-54 – up 3%)
CNN: 1,028,000 total viewers – down 5% (334,000 in 25-54 – down 12%)
MSNBC: 1,859,000 total viewers – up 6% (346,000 in 25-54 – down 10%)

Below are the Top 5 shows in cable news, per Q3 averages. They’re all in primetime, and the order is the same whether ranking them by demo or total viewers.

  1. “Hannity” (Fox)
  2. “The Rachel Maddow Show” (MSNBC)
  3. “Tucker Carlson Tonight” (Fox)
  4. “The Ingraham Angle” (Fox
  5. “Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell” (MSNBC)

Hannity shifted up an hour last fall to make room for Laura Ingraham at 10. He took over for “The Five,” which now actually airs at 5.