Cable News Networks' Viewing Slows After Mueller Report

After viewing increases for the better part of two years, cable TV news networks posted a decidedly downward trend in the second quarter  -- as well as taking on steeper 20% to 30% declines in key 25-54 TV viewers for news-focused advertisers.

Fox News Channel slipped 6% in prime-time viewing from the same period a year ago, to a Nielsen-measured average of 2.4 million total viewers. Fox continues to lead all U.S. cable networks in prime time.

MSNBC gave up similar levels -- down 4% to land at 1.7 million viewers. CNN gave up a bigger 18% to 761,000 prime-time viewers.

The story is mostly the same in total day viewing, with Fox News losing 6% to 1.3 million average viewers, MSNBC dropping 3% to 900,000 viewers and CNN losing 18% to 541,000.

In prime time, in the April through June period, Fox was down 22% to 373,000 viewers in the 25-54 demographic, while MSNBC slowed down by 27% to 252,000 and CNN sank 38% to 188,000.

This contrasts with generally higher results in 2018. In prime time, Fox News Channel was down 10% to 2.2 million total viewers, while MSNBC was up 6% to 2.0 million viewers; and CNN was 31% higher to 1.2 million total viewers.



Much of the current viewing slowdown occurred after the U.S. Department of Justice Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian election influence and obstruction of justice concerns was released on April 18.

In the coming months, however, analysts expect to see higher viewing levels on TV news networks as the presidential election campaign season ramps up at year's end and into 2020.

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