October Cable TV News Viewing Records Declines

October’s results for cable TV news-channel viewing continues to soften this fall -- with the three big competitors losing anywhere from 5% to 15% in prime-time viewership versus September -- and bigger losses versus a year ago.

Much of this decline was expected after a big 2020 presidential year.

Fox News Channel dropped 8% in prime-time versus September numbers, landing at 2.3 million Nielsen-measured viewers -- off 53% from October a year ago.

MSNBC lost a similar 5% to sit at 1.2 million average prime-time viewers versus September -- and sank 55% from October 2020.

CNN’s prime-time viewers were about half that of MSNBC’s for October 2021 -- at 661,000, off 15% from September and 73% lower than October 2020.

Total day viewership (6 a.m to 6 a.m.) followed a similar trend, with Fox at 1.4 million -- down 38% from the year-ago period -- with MSNBC at 680,000 viewers, falling 54%; and CNN declining 65% to 487,000 viewers

In the coming months, analysts expect viewership -- and advertising dollars -- to pick up, for the big midterm election races in 2022.

National TV advertising revenues from January through October 2021 were estimated to be $809.6 million for Fox News Channel (195.7 billion impressions); $366 million for MSNBC (127 billion impressions); and $371.7 million for CNN (122 billion impressions), per iSpot.tv.

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