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TV Ratings: Cable-News Views Soar During Pandemic

5/07/18 Chris Cuomo Primetime
Jeremy Freeman / CNN

Viewership for all three of the nation’s main cable-news outlets soared in April as viewers tuned in at all hours for information on the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

While Fox News captured the most viewers during the month, CNN notched the biggest audience gain across its total day, scoring an increase of 179% in viewers between the ages of 25 and 54, the demographic most coveted by advertisers in news programs. Fox News, which had the most viewers in the category, saw an increase of 83% among viewers between 25 and 54, while MSNBC notched a gain of 54%.

The surge lent CNN its best month in the demo since 2005.  At MSNBC, viewership in the advertiser demo in daytime programming was at its highest levels since April 2003.

The viewership increase has lent new momentum to certain programs, sometimes in unexpected time slots. At Fox News, for example, “Special Report with Bret Baier” and “The Story,” anchored by Martha MacCallum, were the highest-rated in the advertiser demo, boosted by President Trump’s early-evening briefings on the coronavirus. Both shows captured more viewers between 25 and 54 than Fox News’ popular primetime opinion programs.

At CNN,”Cuomo Prime Time” notched more viewers in the advertiser demo than its time-slot rival at MSNBC, “The Rachel Maddow Show.” It is the first time since “Cuomo” launched 2018 that it has beat the MSNBC program in that category. Fox News rival “Hannity” maintained its lead position in the time slot.