The numbers are in for May, and to no one’s surprise, Fox News is the king of the cable news mountaintop. Besides being the most-watched cable news network for the 197th consecutive month, FNC also had the top-rated program in cable news in both total viewership and the key 25-54 demographic.
According to Nielsen, Fox News led across the board in both total day and primetime viewership. During the 8 PM to 11 PM time slot, Fox averaged 2.381 million total viewers and 461,000 in the demo. MSNBC placed second in primetime in both total audience (1.654 million) and the demographic (329,000). CNN pulled in 835,000 viewers overall and 265,000 in the 25-54 metric.
In total day, FNC drew 1.394 million viewers overall and 279,000 in the key demographic. MSNBC placed second in total viewership (914,000) and third in the demo (196,000). CNN captured 655,000 total viewers and 198,000 in the demographic.
All three networks saw some losses compared to May 2017. CNN, however, experienced the most severe. In primetime, the network witnessed drops of 25 percent in total viewers and 34 percent in the demo during the primetime hours. In total day, CNN saw a 27 percent drop in demo audience and 20 percent in viewers overall. It should be noted that this still represented CNN’s second-best May ever, and May 2017 was a news-heavy month that featured the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel.
Meanwhile, in dayside (9 AM – 5 PM) programming, MSNBC did experience some growth compared to last year, seeing an uptick of 11 percent in the demo and four percent in total viewers. During total day and primetime, MSNBC small single-digit dips in total viewership but double-digit decreases in the demo (11 percent in total day and 21 percent in primetime).
The top-rated program of the month was Fox News’ Hannity, pulling in 3.261 million viewers overall and 650,000 in the key demo. Hannity’s 9 PM competitor, MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, finished second in both metrics, averaging 2.627 million total viewers and 531,000 in the 25-54 demographic. Fox’s Tucker Carlson Tonight placed third overall in total viewership (2.617 million) and fourth in the demo (519,000). FNC’s The Ingraham Angle took third in the demo (523,000) and fourth in total audience (2.589 million).
CNN saw continued success with its CNN Original Series offerings. Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown averaged 1.07 million and 461,000 in the key demo, easily leading its time slot in the demographic. United Shades of America also led its time period in the demo, drawing 344,000 in the metric.
In business programming, Lou Dobbs Tonight — one of the president’s favorite programs — led the pack with 319,000. Fox Business topped CNBC in total viewers (187,000 to 165,000) while CNBC came out on top in the key demo (32,000 to 22,000).