Cable News Ratings: CNN, Fox News Continue to Grow at MSNBC’s Expense

Fox News Megyn Kelly
Courtesy of Fox News Channel

Fox News remained the overwhelming primetime choice for cable news viewers during a busy second quarter of this year, and both it and a more competitive CNN were up double-digits in the key news demo vs. last year — pushing MSNBC farther down the ratings totem pole.

CNN had a strong quarter relative to the competition on a total-day basis, as it was up 31% in the news demo of adults 25-54 and 26% in total viewers, according to Nielsen estimates. FNC was about even (down 2% in 25-54, up 4% in total viewers) while MSNBC slid 17% in adults 25-54 and dipped 5% in total viewers.

MSNBC’s biggest news for the quarter was the announcement of former “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams joining the network, which is still in the early months of Andrew Lack’s leadership as chairman.

Among individual programs for the quarter, Fox News could claim the top six in adults 25-54, led by “The O’Reilly Factor” (423,000) and “The Kelly File” (400,000). (“Kelly File” had a notable close to the quarter, as Megyn Kelly’s exclusive interviews with members of the Duggar family from “19 Kids and Counting” lifted her show to its first ever No. 1 monthly finish among cable news programs in the demo, edging past “O’Reilly”).

In total viewers, FNC was especially dominant as usual. It had the quarter’s top 14 programs, led by “The O’Reilly Factor” (2.456 million), “The Kelly File” (2.100 million) and “Special Report with Bret Baier” (1.882 million). “Rachel Maddow” led MSNBC (736,000 viewers), and “Anderson Cooper” carried CNN (664,000).

Among all ad-supported cable networks for the quarter, Fox News Channel ranked third in “live plus same-day” primetime average (1.603 million) and fourth in “most current” Nielsen estimates (1.641 million). TNT, boosted by the NBA Playoffs, led overall with a little over 2 million on average.

The March 30-June 28 ratings period included the announcements of numerous 2016 presidential bids and other big news including Freddie Gray’s death in Baltimore, major Supreme Court rulings and the South Carolina church shootings.


(Live plus same-day)

Adults 25-54
Fox News                            (301,000, up 14% from last year)
CNN                                     (195,000, up 25%)
MSNBC                               (130,000, down 18%)

Total Viewers
Fox News                            (1,603,000, up 1% from last year)
CNN                                     (560,000, up 22%)
MSNBC                               (512,000, down 10%)

(Live plus same-day)

Adults 25-54
Fox News                            (186,000, down 2% from last year)
CNN                                     (138,000, up 31%)
MSNBC                               (85,000, down 17%)

Total Viewers
Fox News                            (974,000, up 4% from last year)
CNN                                     (431,000, up 26%)
MSNBC                               (318,000, down 5%)

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  1. David S says:

    I used to be more toward the left a long time ago. But after decades of realizing that I was spoon fed lies by liberals and realized that it takes more than acting smug, arrogant, and pretentious to actually be smart I was disillusioned by my leaning towards the dems. Also after studying a lot of things own my own other than what my leftist professors skewed out of shape I realized something as amiss. I now register as “None Party” and even though I am in some disagreement with comments from both Republicans and Democrats I find myself watching FOX news at the total exclusion of CNN. And I used to watch CNN all the time. CNN turned me off with their constant misquotes of GOP and using paraphrasing as an excuse to Mad-LIb. Like a lot of my college instructors and professors they tend to skew facts while at the same time claiming to be unbiased, scientific, and educated.. However this is a contradiction when I find that bias, congestive dissonance, and agenda seems to fog any true unbiased and scientific endeavors. I have noticed over the last decade that CNN has sunk to new lows and lacking in being professional. While FOX has actually been trying harder to be logical, focused, and factual. Though I have not agreed with everything I have seen on FOX News I like how the reporting has been trying to be more logical and cut through the obvious bias from the Left. This is not to say I won’t vote for a Democrat again nor am I saying I will only for for the Right. However what it does mean is that more conservative news networks are right that people that are independent of both parties have been eyeballing the Right. However don’t mistake this for winning all of us over but it is a good sign that FOX News has been trying to be more scientific.. Not necessarily tapping into our anger, dismay, or disgust, however tapping into both our dismay as well as our analytical view of the world. A lot of us are waking up to the fact that the leftist news stations have lead us down the garden path in which were we thought we could see clearly. This “waking up” has disillusioned us and left us distrustful of Liberal News Media. FOX News has not entirely won me over however I applaud your efforts in trying to weather the storm of the left trying to emotionally hijack & psychologically control the public.

  2. Tatum Shaw says:

    OJ was innocent after all. Megyn Kelly is the same biatch I’m many of the Nicole Brown Simpson photos. You have to be a bleeping fool not to see its her and I do not believe conspiracy theories either. Why doesn’t the FBI or military start busting these losers? Corruption at its most rampant and disgusting high.

  3. Toby Best says:

    In another life Megyn Kelly was famous and played the part of Nicole Brown Simpson.

  4. nancy says:

    Any wonder why MSNBC continues to dive? Should be named MSNBC-BET or maybe Revering racism with Al Sharpton.

  5. Abs says:

    The world would be a better place if all three disappeared.

    • nj4ck says:

      Amen to that. They’re dying slowly, but all of them are indeed dying. Give it another 20 years and maybe we’ll be free from them.

  6. Nicholas P. Schiavone says:

    Stop the weak and silly alibis.
    Every critic of Fox News who writes in Variety
    is a closeted FNC Fan and sadly unhinged.
    Fox neither needs nor wants the viewing of disturbed people.
    Get help and make a better life.
    You cannot write better than Rick Kissell.
    Don’t try.

  7. Mark Fields says:

    And also when i wrote my comment moderators say they will re-write it . Anyone connected to Fox news is a liar. You don’t re-write a comment unless you are a freedom of speech killer. Get a life Variety

  8. Mark Fields says:

    Every Republican in the country thinks by watching Fox they may have a chance at beating Hilary. Fox blatantly lies and it is very easy to catch them. Making up stories about Obama care , I like the latest comment by Megan. If they legalize pot im afraid someone may break into my house to steal money for it. Come on man who sais that. That was by far the dumbest comment i have ever heard. And of course she is a blond.

  9. rocco says:

    So Fox has the most amount of viewers who are on some type of government assistance – social security, medicare, disability, etc – and want the government to cut assistance to everyone but them.

  10. Nicholas P. Schiavone says:

    Roger Ailes proves again:

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