Driven by the surge of interest in live breaking news of Russia invading Ukraine, and compared to the unusual declines of a year ago, Fox News Channel was the only cable TV news network to gain viewers in the first quarter of 2022 versus a year ago.
Fox News was up 22% in total day viewers to 1.6 million viewings, per Nielsen, and 3% higher in prime-time viewing to 2.6 million viewers.
Fox remains the leading cable network overall in prime time, while MSNBC is in third place and CNN is lower but still a top-ten cable network.
This is a big turnaround for the network versus the first quarter of 2021, when it was behind CNN and MSNBC in total day viewers for the first time in years. During the first three months of 2021, viewing was driven by news and analysis of the January 6 insurrection, as well as more post-2020 Presidential election news.
The picture was different for MSNBC and CNN. In comparison to the major news surge of a year ago -- and despite the war in Ukraine -- both MSNBC and CNN have had difficulty keeping pace this year.
For MSNBC, prime-time viewing was down 46% to 1.2 million and falling 48% in total day viewing to 712,000. CNN declined a massive 56% in prime time to 857,000, while total day viewing sank 52% to 653,000.
Still on a quarter-to-quarter basis (fourth quarter-2021 versus first-quarter 2022), CNN has seen higher viewership -- up 33% in prime time and in total day viewing.
MSNBC made smaller gains -- rising 4% in prime time and 6% in total day viewing.
Fox also saw higher results versus the fourth quarter -- up 8% in prime time and 12% more in total day viewers.