Cable News Ratings: Fox News Breaks Records, MSNBC Posts Significant Growth

Rachel Maddow Bill O'Reilly
REX/Shutterstock

Fox News finished far and above its competition in the ratings for the first quarter of 2017, with the network putting up the highest-rated quarter ever in cable news history in the total day viewership measure, according to Nielsen data released Tuesday. This marks 61 consecutive quarters that Fox News has finished number one among cable news networks in total day and primetime viewership.

Fox News averaged 1.72 million total day viewers, with 359,000 of those falling in the key adults 25-54 demo. CNN finished second with 826,000 total day viewers and 266,000 viewers in the demo. MSNBC came in third with 781,000 total day viewers and 185,000 viewers in the demo. Yet despite finishing third, MSNBC definitely has reason to celebrate. The network grew its viewership by 55 percent in total day viewers and 40 percent in the key demo compared to quarter one of 2016, no doubt boosted in part thanks to a surge in the ratings of “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

Fox News grew 27 percent in total day viewers compared to last year and CNN grew 13 percent. In the key demo, Fox News was up 32 percent from the first quarter of 2016 while CNN grew 22 percent. It should be noted for comparison purposes, however, that during quarter one of 2016 CNN aired 13 presidential town halls and debates, which drew significant ratings for the network. But CNN did have its most-watched first quarter in 14 years, both in the key demo and in total viewers.

Fox News also finished number one in both primetime and daytime measures. In primetime, the network averaged 2.89 million viewers for the quarter, with 588,000 of those in the key demo. CNN was third in primetime viewers with 1.19 million viewers, but second in the demo with 411,000. MSNBC came in second in primetime viewers with 1.46 million million viewers and third in the demo with 347,000. In the daytime measure, Fox News averaged 1.99 million viewers, with 388,000 in the demo. CNN was second with 896,000 viewers and 253,000 in the demo. MSNBC finished third with 737,000 viewers and 147,000 in the demo.

In addition, Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” not only had its highest-rated quarter ever, but it broke all previous records in cable news history for the highest-viewership ever for any given program in a quarter. “The Lead with Jake Tapper” on CNN was also up in both key measures. Tapper is up 56 percent in the demo compared to the first quarter last year, and 39 percent in total viewers.

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  1. Steve says:

    CNN needs a primetime revamp. Jake Tapper is ready and can’t be any weaker than Cooper at 8pm.
    CNN needs a high cost hire at 9 like John Stewart to do a Larry King styled show. Cooper should move into the 10-midnight slot with a new show.
    It’s even gut 7pm with a new Crossfire and 30 minute copy of BBC Newsnight.

  2. Chris Lund says:

    Fox is the adult channel. That is why they like that we have an adult in the WH. #MAGA

  3. Joe says:

    Fox blows them both away. Even if you combine the numbers for CNN and MSNBC numbers, Fox still beats both

  4. Brian Smithfield says:

    TRUTH: Per Nielson Ratings 3/27/17 – Oreilly Broke another record
    FACTS:
    Fox News finished far and above its competition in first quarter of 2017, putting up the highest-rated quarter EVER in cable news history.

    Fox News Marks 61 consecutive quarters and finished number one among cable news networks in total day and primetime viewership.

    Fox News averaged 1.72 million viewers
    CNN finished second with 826,000
    MSNBC came in third with 781,000 total day viewers ratings of “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

     Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” not only had its highest-rated quarter ever, but it broke all previous records in cable news history for the highest-viewership ever for any given program in a quarter.

  5. J Russ says:

    The nations hapless naive lemming now have two channels to watch, Faux, “alternate facts” and universe news for those held back a couple of grades and Me-TV with the old mindless comedy sitcom’s.

  6. Luanna says:

    Fox News tells it like it is and gives truthful news, MSNBC and CNN are Anti-American, Anti-President and bow down to the Washington Corruption with the Ex-president and the Clinton camp. They don’t report the truth of the corruption within the Democrats/Liberals, CNN and MSNBC are both Anti-republican. They never are fair and balanced. They edit interviews, cut intelligent people off if they are not Democrats, they idolize the common criminals that WERE in the White House, all the while knocking out new president. CNN will soon become like their sister station and play repeats of forensic files all day.

    • Dave J says:

      Only drop outs such as yourself watch Fox News since you only want to hear what you want to hear including Obama is not an American…you tool.

  7. Jared says:

    MSNBC is the ‘safe space’.

  8. Pedro says:

    “Fox News averaged 1.72 million total day viewers, with 359,000 of those falling in the key adults 25-54 demo”.

    So Trump watching Fox all day instead of working is actually a very common thing for the elderly to do then. Maybe he should retire, so he can enjoy that, which I suppose he deserves, at his age, like many seem to do, given these ratings.

  9. Pitiful, totally pitiful. Fox is a putrid, lying, racist, sexist piece of garbage. Watch RT you will learn something, more like the Truth.

  10. Melissa L. says:

    they’re about even if you consider that dems are watching cnn or msnbc…

  11. Ohmicron says:

    If Republicans are watching Fox and Democrats are watching CNN shouldn’t the numbers be even not doubled. Fox is beating all the competition by more than twice the amount of viewers so I think your logic is flawed. Anger and emotions do not work well when applied to logic

  12. Dave J says:

    You are just as fake as Fox News

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