Cable News Ratings: MSNBC, CNN, Fox News Post Double-Digit Growth in Q2

Jake Tapper Tucker Carlson Rachel Maddow
Tapper: Courtesy of CNN; Carlson/Maddow: Rex/Shutterstock

The viewership spike for cable news shows no signs of slowing down. Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC all saw double-digit ratings growth across the board for the second quarter of 2017, according to Nielsen data.

Driven by surges for “The Rachel Maddow Show” and “Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell,” MSNBC is up a whopping 86% in total viewers in primetime compared to second-quarter 2016. CNN saw a 39% leap in adults 25-54 in total day. Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow” split the crown for most-watched cable news program in primetime, with Carlson winning in total viewers and Maddow taking the demo.

In total day, Fox News led with 1.47 million total viewers, up 27% from the same period last year. Of those, 314,000 fell in the adults 25-54 demographic, up 46% from last year. MSNBC was second in total viewers with 886,000, up 73%. MSNBC was third in total day in the demo, however, with 206,000 for an increase of 57%. CNN was third in total viewers with 788,000 for an increase of 25%, but second in the demo with 262,000 (up 39%).

In Monday-Sunday primetime (8 p.m.-11 p.m. ET), Fox News maintained its comfortable lead over the competition with 2.35 million total viewers for an increase of 19% compared to the same period last year. Fox News was also first in the demo in primetime with an average of 472,000, up 34% from last year.

The resilience was notable given that Fox News lost its longtime 8 p.m. anchor “The O’Reilly Factor” in mid-April following the sexual harassment scandal that forced host Bill O’Reilly off the air. “Tucker Carlson Tonight” has not matched “O’Reilly Factor’s” year-ago levels in total viewers but it has brought in a younger audience, with a 16% gain in adults 25-54. At 10 p.m., “Hannity” saw a 30% surge in total viewers and adults 25-54.

MSNBC, meanwhile, is riding the wave of outrage at the Trump administration’s agenda with liberal commentators Maddow and O’Donnell. The NBCUniversal cabler was second in primetime in both measures with 1.64 million total viewers (up 86%) and 389,000 (up 78%). CNN was third with 1.06 million viewers for a 10% increase over last year, with 370,000 in the demo for a 19% increase over last year.

For the quarter, the top five programs in total viewers are: Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” (2.71 million); MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” (2.52 million); Fox News’ “Hannity” (2.51 million); Fox News’ “The Five” (2.47 million); and Fox News’ “Special Report With Bret Baier” (2.34 million).

MSNBC and Fox News also split the top five programs in the key demo: “The Rachel Maddow Show” (604,000); “Hannity” (550,000); “Tucker Carlson Tonight” (541,000); “The Five (508,000); and MSNBC’s “Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell” (476,000).


Cable News Ratings Battle

Cable News Wars: Inside the Unprecedented Battle for Viewers in Trump Era

This is the latest in a long string of ratings wins for the Big Three cable news networks in the early days of the Trump administration. Combined viewing of the three networks is up 33% through the first week of June compared with the same period last year.

The second quarter trends continue the momentum the news cablers enjoyed in the first quarter — surprising observers given the expectation of a post-presidential election decline in viewership. Instead, the three networks saw massive gains. CNN had its most-watched first quarter in 14 years, both in the key demo and in total viewers, while Fox News put up the highest-rated quarter ever in cable news history in the total day viewership.

(Pictured: CNN’s Jake Tapper, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow)

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  1. Jonatas SaNogueira says:

    Still think the fox news is all for ratings and misinformed their viewers. Foxnews sucks always. The fake news is foxnews.

  2. Tina Newton says:

    I hated seeing Bill O’Reilly go but I guess that’s life. Tucker Carlson is amazing and is very informative on the crazy s*** that’s going on today. I can’t believe I ever watch CNN.


    Think CNNis not thruthfull wants to give their iwn piliticsl views and ideas, when show the president Twitts need to focus ib sll the words notbin just s part, u are to inform. U are not any one to said thst because people focus just in s part u have to do the same, because you on porpuse wants to mislead

    • Lisa Treadwell says:

      well I think CNN just talks about the truth unlike others I watch them all day everyday. Its filled with things that people dont want us to know. I wish I had a shirt and a hat to wear I would be walking advertisement for them keep up the good work guys

  4. Alfred says:

    So CNN is still in DEAD LAST place.

    Good to know their constant anti-Trump barrage has sunk them to the bottom.

  5. Fred says:

    I’m very surprised people aren’t sick of the same thing night after night at CNN. FOX has variety and current events while CNN is obsessed with Russia. I’d like to see more discussion on health care and Jobs. Don’t care if you’re a Dem or Rep, move on to something that actually matters and stop trying to disgrace our president as if all politicians are holier than though.

  6. Ally says:

    Which is the highest rated show on CNN?

  7. Rilla says:

    CNN needs to start promoting people other than Tapper now. I know he is Zucker’s fave, but it’s not helping their ratings.

  8. golfisfun says:

    Tucker crossed over my red line when he abused two guests last week. Too bad, ego sensitivity syndrome for sure.

  9. Paul Bleeker says:

    It sounds like “Trump” sells! No wonder why they keep making up stories about him. Fox is probably double because it’s the only conservative station. The other 2 are split between the libs.

  10. Reagan ronald says:

    So, fox is double the others got it

  11. Wounded Warr1or says:

    All the new networks seem to become more opinion versus fact based, but I am still finding it difficult to forgive CNN for live broadcasting our units position during the first phase of the ground war in Iraq. That reporter is no longer with them; but those foreskinheads still let it air in near real time .. It takes a few minutes for a unit to break camp and jump the entire base of ops forward.

  12. Jean says:

    CNN please give it up. No one likes your negative news. Your turning into a joke
    Your reporter’s are so negative I can’t stand to watch. I hope you get shut down due to low low ratings.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Tucker seems to be overwhelmed by most of his guest and doesn’t have come back questions to give us viewers both sides of a topic so we can evaluate the subject. What gives? Maybe he needs to be better informed?? Seems like the guest gets to give their speech and Tucker says…” Ok but we’re out of time.,” Guess l won’t ,have time to watch either.

  14. John Hansen says:

    Outrage at Trump’s agenda? 80% of the country supports his agenda of secured borders, boosting the military, bringing back jobs, expanding energy production, stopping the attack and hatred for America and boosting middle class families over refugees, illegals and parasites.

    • Jenny says:

      Trump only has 32% approval. Don’t know where you get 80% support from. Must be Fux Newz and their alternative facts.

      • Correct. Many support Trump’s policies, but don’t support Trump.

        If you say “do you support reducing immigration?” Around 65% of the population will say yes.

        If you say “do you support TRUMP’S policy of reducing immigration?” Only around 45% will say yes.

        Chalk it up to a misinformed public who will suddenly abandon their own positions at the mere mention of a name that a dishonest media has made toxic.

      • Herb says:

        Remember that 32% approval figure comes from the same folks who predicted Trump was 10 points down on the eve of the election.

      • Harry Flashman says:

        Definition of agenda
        : a list or outline of things to be considered or done agendas of faculty meetings
        : an underlying often ideological plan or program a political agenda

    • Jenny says:

      Fux Newz is nothing but lies and sexual harassment.

  15. Mitchem says:

    Fox is CLEARLY the best.

    • Jenny says:

      Fux Newz is the best at lying to you.

      • Diana says:

        CNN is the best at lying to you

      • JOHN says:

        Harvard Study: CNN: 93% neg coverage. Now tell me is that balanced. You never hear any accomplishments the President has done or what the bad things the Left are doing.
        The same study has foxnews at 51% negative. Now tell me who’s lying to you. I watch Foxnews because I want to see what the president is doing, Positive or Negative.
        You must be watching CNN: It’s all propaganda you moron and you got sucked into it.

  16. Chloe says:

    I trust FOX news the most. Tucker Carlson is doing a great job! CNN has really gone down hill in MY book. They are way too left these days, and forget Rachel Maddow; she comes across as an angry manhater.

  17. jim says:

    No one watches msnbc daytime since Andy lack drove off the viewers with he’s fox light programming. Tucker carlson is a douch but thats his gig to make stupid people angry . Guys an idiot.

  18. Me says:

    Fox news always!!!!

  19. George Lewis says:

    Tucker Carlson is doing great. FOX News stays on top.

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