Surprise! MSNBC's Tops All Cable News Nets For First TIme

Somewhat shockingly, MSNBC has rocketed to second place in prime time among all cable TV networks -- as well as topping its cable news network competitors for the first time ever.

Will upfront advertising rewards  follow for the network and for its competitors?

MSNBC earned 2.44 million viewers, and 611,000  in the key 25-54 news demographic for week ending May 10 — a first for the 21-year old news network.

Perhaps even more amazing: In the key 25-54 demo, Fox News, for the first time in 17 years, finished in third place with 497,000 viewers, and 2.405 million overall viewers. CNN was second in the demographic --589,000 -- and third in overall viewers with 1.65 million.

Well, we know why: All the trials, tribulations, and now, standard reported outrageous remarks from our new President, as repeated scandals have plagued the Trump’s administration.

Now, for all of MSNBC’s gains in brand -- and viewing -- improvement, the big NBC cable network might have to share some of that with other news organizations -- specifically The New York Times and The Washington Post, which came up with the bulk of that breaking news.



Not to be outdone, NBC’s own journalists, and other cable news reporters, clocked in their new content exclusive.  All this comes -- of course -- as our Trump continues to call most of those news organizations that certain “f” word.

It's the endless controversy that doubles as a backdrop to the upfront advertising selling process. 

While broadcast ratings erosion continues this year at a 10% decline, overall cable networks estimates have fallen at a steeper level -- around 12% to 15% or so, depending on the measure.

There’s one major exception here. That being cable news networks -- MSNBC, Fox News and CNN -- with reported big viewing gains.

For decades, TV news networks analysts have understood major news events are a big factor in viewership gains on news programming.

However, more recently, following Fox News Channel -- which has been wildly successful for many years -- some of this changed. News content cycles matter a bit less; and new opinion and analysis, a bit more. This has also been true of CNN and MSNBC.

But in the past few weeks, it may have shifted back, that specific major breaking news content -- virtually coming every day, even every hour -- may have created a slight shift.

Some breathless journalism has amped up TV viewing interest -- especially coming after surprise results from the presidential election in November.

What will be the new trends in TV news content -- say six, nine, or 12 months from now? Hold your breath.

3 comments about "Surprise! MSNBC's Tops All Cable News Nets For First TIme".
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  1. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy, May 24, 2017 at 2:40 p.m.

    As you know only too well and even your right wing colleague, Adam Buckman, acknowledged (sort of & reluctantly) in another article on MSNBC's succes, there are two reasons "why" MSNBC is topping the cable ratings not one.  The second is the simply superb newscaster team and their assiduous researchers/truth checkers.  The stars include: Dr. Rachel Maddow; Chris Mathew; Chris Hayes; Joe Scarborough & Mika Brzezinski; Lawrence O'Donnell; Brian Williams; Chuck Todd; and of course the brilliant Andrea Mitchell.  Say no more!  Nudge. Nudge. 

  2. Chuck Lantz from, network replied, May 24, 2017 at 2:51 p.m.

    Tony:  Nicely put.  

    What's most surprising to me is that Fox News is doing so poorly, despite the fact that their payroll isn't burdened by researchers and fact-checkers. 

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 24, 2017 at 3:36 p.m.

    It does look to me as if Fox's once commanding lead has started to erode, however the 25-54 stats are a bit misleading as this supposedly "key" news viewing group, which represents well over half of the adult population, accounts for barely 25% of the average minute cable news viewership.Consequently, you dont see many youth targeted  or even mainstream advertisers on Fox or its news competitors. The really important battle will be waged among the 55 plus segment, which is the real "key" audience group for this program genre. I think it will take longer for such people to reduce their consumption of Fox News  but, unless some rational casting and format decisions are made soon, I expect Fox to start losing many of these as well. The danger of waiting too long before making changes is that once a diehard, everynight, fan starts to divide his/her nightly intake among two or even three news channels, it's not going to be all that easy for the one time dominant leader---Fox---to recoup.

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