Cable TV News Nets Record Lower Ratings, Fox Ahead In Prime Time

Four months after President Biden's inauguration -- and after the tumultuous 2020 presidential election and a pandemic-fueled news cycle -- cable TV news channels have recorded an expected slowdown in TV viewing in May.

Fox News Channel still leads MSNBC and CNN and all cable TV networks. MSNBC is the second-most-watched basic cable network, and CNN is the sixth-most watched.

Collectively, the three networks averaged 4.58 million prime-time viewers in May 2021 in the Nielsen live program-plus-same day viewing metric (with Fox at 2.12 million, MSNBC at 1.49 million and CNN at 913,000).

'This was down from 7.01 million prime-time viewers in May 2020 (Fox at 3.44 million; MSNBC at 1.92 million; CNN at 1.65 million).

Fox dropped 38% in May versus the same month a year ago, as well as 37% lower in total day viewers (to 1.19 million). The network is also down 3% each in prime-time and total day viewing from April.

MSNBC and CNN also experienced declining trends. MSNBC was down 22% in May in prime-time viewers, with a 28% decline (to 835,000) in total day viewers, coming in at an overall second place in both categories. It was also off 6% in prime-time viewers and 12% lower in total day viewers from April.

CNN has fallen the most -- down 45% versus the intense May 2020 period of the presidential campaign, with a 44% decline to 613,000 in total day viewers.

CNN also had the biggest hit versus April among the big three news networks -- losing 11% of prime-time viewers and 22% of its total day viewers.

2 comments about "Cable TV News Nets Record Lower Ratings, Fox Ahead In Prime Time".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 3, 2021 at 9:43 a.m.

    Wayne, these  stats merely reflect the fact that many Fox viewers devote much more time to its content than is the case with CNN's audience in particular. However, when Nielsen tallies the weekly or monthly reach for the two channels across all dayparts I would bet that CNN holds a small but important lead. Which raises a question for advertisers, namely, which is more important reach or frequency? Also, do we really believe that the  Nielsen panelists who are described as "average commercial minute viewers" for heavily ad- cluttered cable news channels are actually present in the room and  eyes-on-screen "watching" when the commercials appear? Some, no doubt---but how many.

  2. Craig Mcdaniel from Sweepstakes Today LLC, June 3, 2021 at 7:17 p.m.

    Wayne, the numbers don't consider other key factors like the time of the year, Spring and the lifting of Covid restrictions. Many people are working in their yards, shopping going to baseball games and more. I see a drop a entry numbers every year in winter and spring months for the same reason.

Next story loading loading..