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. If Larry King was still airing on CNN would he be towing the company anti Trump campaign.I believe he would play it down the middle.

  2. Dave says:

    PEople are watching Jake Tapper to see how bias him and Anderson Cooper truly are. 4-0 in special elections! Keep it up libs

  3. Debbi Williams says:

    Rachel’s numbers are up as Conservatives are tuning in to watch her implode. I know I did!

    • Richard says:

      They can tune in and hope for the worst as that’s what Foxet’s do wile living on their scortched planet.
      Rachel has stayed on message and broke it all down so those rusty belters can understand that action speak louder than words, lies can be fact checked and relies on the facts rather than opinions that have been run through the mill or new cycle to the point that there is no point in listening to what this White House has said in distraction but we should watch their actions. She is from my home town which lives in it’s own bubble with Cosmopolitian culture for those willing to talk the talk and walk the walk. Get used to her style of fact based news as Fox is the one that seems to be full of temp. air brushed talking heads with nothing but shallow opiniions to share and no facts to teach.

  4. Al Neuman says:

    Hard to believe that Rachel Maddow’s numbers are actually going UP! She is constantly sneering, has a monotonous never-changing far Left bias, and has never said 1 good word about a Republican in her life.
    She certainly is the least-appealing TV anchor i’ve ever seen–would rather have my nails pulled out than watch her and listen to the constant litany of Leftist hate.
    And every objective survey of major cable news channels has repeatedly ranked MSNBC as the most biased! (see recently published Harvard study)

    • Dave says:

      Actually, there is no point in listening to CNN or MSNBC. You already know their topic before turning the channel. Keep your head in the sand!

  5. Mary V. Lynn says:

    Fair and balanced, the best female commentators inn the business

  6. vesna says:

    Fox news is only honest news, while CNN and MSNBC are evil, filled with hate, animosity, lies, that many people can not watch the evil.

  7. Staci says:

    It’s because more people trust Fox news. I have seen so many inconsistencies with CNN, that I flipped to Fox, and stayed with Fox. Case in point, many people were shocked that Trump won the Presidency is because that is what CNN and MSNBC was telling them. They didn’t see the half empty stadiums at Clinton/(what was his name?) rallies, or the full stadiums at Trump/Pence rallies like I did when I searched for comparison…so I wasn’t surprised. If you search for facts, then you’ll know when you are getting half truths and lies.

  8. Kelcy Cole says:

    How do they compute the number? I ask because for decades the news station in almost all military offices and facilities, and from what I hear many other gov’t offices, is Fox News. Only in the last year have I seen the televisions tuned to more benign stations like HGTV. So if those gov’t televisions are counted somehow then they would skew the viewership.

  9. 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.

  10. Chris Lund says:

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

  11. Joe says:

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

  12. 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.

  13. Dave J says:

    You are just as fake as Fox News

  14. 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.

    • Dave J says:

      Fox News the news channel who want to tell viewers what they want to hear.

      • Lisa M. says:

        Fox news is what the majority of non stoners that are awake, and informed watch. That’s why they are always number one. The snowflakes watch Chachi on MSNBC for their daily injection of propaganda.

      • Brian Smithfield says:

        Or the channel who has journalists and not liberal pundits.

  15. 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.

  16. Jared says:

    MSNBC is the ‘safe space’.

    • J Ingram says:

      MSNBC will never report Obama’s 400k Wall Street fee and you are fair and balanced? Crap news for sure. That’s why college educated people like me won’t watch MSNBC or CNN.

    • Rimshot says:

      Which is why Maddow is growing. Snowflakes need their bedtime stories.

  17. 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.

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

    • Mark Ailes says:

      “Fox is a putrid, lying, racist, sexist piece of garbage.”

      They also have a negative side.

      • J Ingram says:

        All you liberal’s who are suppose to be open to all views, have become the most hypocritical, closed minded group in American history. As a centrist conservative, at least I will listen to all views ( CNN, MSNBC, Fox) then decide what’s best. Fox is the least bias and that is a fact. People know this and the ratings prove it.

    • this is just evidence of people running to the news they want to hear. Republicans have one place to go to if they only want to hear Trump cheerleading.

  19. Melissa L. says:

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

  20. 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

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