MSNBC Tops Fox News As Most Watched Cable News Network for First Time in 17 Years


For the first time in 17 years, MSNBC bested Fox News as the most watched cable news network for the third week of December.

According to an NBC News press release, the week from December 17th to 21st, MSNBC enjoyed “sales day” ratings wins in both total viewers (first time since 2000) and the more advertising-appealing demographic age set of 25 to 54 (for the first time since 2001.)

For context, Fox News has enjoyed cable news rating dominance since the year 2000, and can still claim 67 straight quarterly ratings wins. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and a cable news outlet cannot win a quarter without first winning a number of weeks.

MSNBC’s specific programming wins include a fourth straight week of MSNBC prime-time programming (M-F 8-11pm) besting Fox News and CNN in both total viewers and A25-54.  The Rachel Maddow Show was the #1 cable news program in total viewers and demo for the week, as was The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell and The 11th Hour with Brian Williams. Sean Hannity was on vacation for this week and therefore off the air.

Dayside programming also enjoyed a great week as MSNBC Live with Ali Velshi, Deadline: White House and Hardball with Chris Matthews were the best on total viewers as well.

Update: Fox News informs Mediaite that they still enjoyed the most total viewers and demo for the entire week, Monday through Sunday, reminding Mediaite editors why ratings posts are rarely worth the effort. This doesn’t diminish the impressive week MSNBC enjoyed, but Fox News did well also! And CNN you are doing impressive work in your own unique way also, so no need to reach out.

Read the entire press release from MSNBC below:


MSNBC Dominates Cable News in Sales Day (M-F 6a-2a) with Total Viewers, Finishing #1 for the Week and Topping FOX News for 1st Time Since 2000; MSNBC Also Tops FOX News in A25-54 for 1st Time Since 2001

MSNBC Prime (M-F 8-11pm) Continues to Lead Both FOX News and CNN in Total Viewers and A25-54 for the 4th Straight Week

“The Rachel Maddow Show” is the #1 Cable News Program in Total Viewers and A25-54 for the Week

“The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” and “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” Are #1 in Both Total Viewers and A25-54 for the Week

“MSNBC Live with Ali Velshi,” “Deadline: White House” and “Hardball with Chris Matthews” Are #1 in Total Viewers

NEW YORK (December 26, 2018) – MSNBC finished the week of December 17, 2018 as the #1 cable news network in the key demographic of A25-54 and total viewers during M-F 6am-2am, according to Nielsen data for the week of December 17-21.

MSNBC dominated during the sales day (M-F 6am-2am) time period last week, averaging 1,558,000 total viewers, the network’s 1st time in the #1 slot since the week of September 25, 2000. FOX News averaged 1,541,000 and CNN averaged 975,000. This was the 1st time MSNBC beat FOX News in the time period since November 6, 2000. In A25-54, MSNBC delivered 269,000, besting FOX News’ 259,000 and just ahead of CNN’s 268,000. This was MSNBC’s largest viewer delivery in the daypart since the week of July 2, 2001. This was the 1st time MSNBC beat FOX News and the 1st time FOX News ranked #3 among the cable news networks in this daypart since October 8, 2001.

In prime (M-F 8-11pm), MSNBC continued to lead FOX News and CNN in both total viewers and A25-54 for the 4th straight week. Last week, MSNBC prime averaged 2,578,000 total viewers (vs. FOX News’ 2,240,000 and CNN’s 1,398,000) and 471,000 viewers A25-54 (vs. FOX News’ 355,000 and CNN’s 415,000). With only one week left in December, MSNBC is on track to finish as the #1 cable news network in the daypart across total viewers and A25-54.

“The Rachel Maddow Show” at 9pm finished the week as the #1 program across all cable news. “Maddow” averaged 3,213,000 total viewers (vs. FOX News’ 2,313,000 and CNN’s 1,456,000) and 621,000 viewers A25-54 – nearly doubling FOX News (vs. FOX News’ 343,000 and CNN’s 433,000). “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” at 10pm averaged 2,388,000 total viewers (vs. FOX News’ 2,001,000 and CNN’s 1,300,000) and 428,000 viewers A25-54 (vs. FOX News’ 315,000 and CNN’s 397,000). “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” at 11pm averaged 1,836,000 total viewers (vs. FOX News’ 1,268,000 and CNN’s 988,000) and 351,000 viewers A25-54 (vs. FOX News’ 239,000 and CNN’s 315,000.

Three MSNBC programs also bested FOX News and CNN among total viewers for the week: “MSNBC Live with Ali Velshi” at 3pm (1,249,000 vs. FOX News’ 1,153,000 and CNN’s 931,000), “Deadline: White House” at 4pm (1,738,000 vs. FOX News’ 1,320,000 and CNN’s 1,121,000) and “Hardball with Chris Matthews” at 7pm (1,926,000 vs. FOX News’ 1,744,000 vs. CNN’s 1,261,000).

Note: Nielsen ratings data for the week of December 17-21, 2018. Olympics programming excluded.


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