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.