Cable News Viewing Falls Vs. Q4, MSNBC Dominates Total Day

Despite an expected first-quarter decline for TV news networks' viewing versus the previous period -- the fourth quarter with the presidential election -- total day viewing saw a slight uptick versus the first quarter of 2020.

Collective Nielsen-measured viewers among Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNBC were up 3% in total day viewing to 4.04 million, largely due to heightened viewing and the events around the January 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection.

Still, there was a drop in cable TV network prime-time viewership among the big three channels in the first three months of 2021 versus the fourth quarter of 2020 -- down 23% to 6.66 million prime-time viewers and 15% lower in total day viewing.

At the same time as lower overall viewing, the TV news network race has tightened.

In total day viewership, the three cable TV networks -- Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN -- were separated by 50,000 viewers. MSNBC was on top -- 1.37 million Nielsen-measured viewers; CNN at 1.35 million; and Fox News Channel at 1.32 million.

Over the last three months, in prime time, there was a 540,000-viewer difference between the leader Fox News Channel, at 2.48 million, and CNN at 1.94 million. MSNBC was at 2.24 million. A year ago, the difference between first and third place (Fox News and CNN) amounted to 1.95 million viewers.

Looking at each network, there were declines at Fox News Channel versus rising results at both MSNBC and CNN compared to a year ago. Fox was down 27% in prime-time viewers and 38% in total day viewers.

CNN was up 36% in prime time and 50% higher in total day viewing. MSNBC is 16% more in prime time and gained 25% in total day viewing.

1 comment about "Cable News Viewing Falls Vs. Q4, MSNBC Dominates Total Day".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 31, 2021 at 1:54 p.m.

    Wayne, in fairness, much of the shift in share of viewing between CNN, MSNBC and Fox took place at the outset of the quarter as you correctly pointed out. More recent data indicates that Fox has rebounded somewhat  as its hard core right wing regulars returned to the fold---though it must be added that compared to several years ago, Fox is no longer in the dominant average minute rating position it once held. Now that Fox has tilted even more strongly to the right in its efforts to retain viewers who might shift to ultra right newbie "news" networks endorsed by Trump,it will be interesting to see if cable news fans---mostly people aged 65+ for all three channels----will keep watching Fox  more frequently---or for longer durations---than MSNBC or CNN. I susp[ect that this will not be the case---at least for a fair portion of Fox "regulars"---but that's just speculation on my part---- for now.

Next story loading loading..