Top Dog: Fox News Handed Prime-Time Crown, CNN Audience Collapses By 25%


Fox News has been on top of the cable news ratings for an astounding 197 months, but the word on the street was that a Trump administration would be a ratings boon for liberal-leaning networks MSNBC and CNN. (I’m not quite sure what street this is, mind you, but it’s one where they talk about cable news ratings a lot.)

So, about that. It seems that not only has the Trump administration not provided the #resistance bump that MSNBC and CNN were relying on, it’s actually made Fox News stronger. In fact, CNN’s situation is so dire that the audience is down by 25 percent.

That’s at least the takeaway from the latest ratings for the month of May, which — as a Forbes writer put it — looked an awful lot like a Fox domination.

“What happened to the rise of MSNBC?” the article from Mark Joyella read. “After showing historic growth — and a few months in 2017 when Rachel Maddow took the title of most-watched host in all of cable news, beating Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity — the just-released results of the May ratings period look very familiar: Fox News won — everything.”

Fox News had 2.381 million viewers on average in prime time, with 1.384 million for MSNBC and 835,000 for CNN.

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Meanwhile, in the 25-54 demographic — which advertisers pay close attention to — Fox News also won by 461,000 to MSNBC’s 329,000 and CNN’s 265,000. While MSNBC had challenged Fox in that demographic in recent months, that challenge has seemed to disappear.

And, while viewership for cable news networks was down compared to last year (in spite of Michael Avenatti’s many, many appearances on cable news), Fox News actually grew 6 percent overall and 2 percent in the 25-54 demographic.

CNN was down a whopping 25 percent overall and 34 percent in the 25-54 demo.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was that Fox News didn’t just dominate cable news, it dominated cable, period. Ten of the top 15 shows on cable were on Fox and the only thing outpacing Sean Hannity’s ratings were the NBA playoffs on ESPN and TNT.

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Hannity averaged 3.261 million viewers; the highest-rated non-Fox host was Rachel Maddow at 2.627 million viewers.

Perhaps more amazing is that this is happening at a time of massive turnover at Fox News.

While the network’s been on top for 197 straight months, the lineup scarcely looks the same as it did just 18 months ago. Gone are familiar faces like Megyn Kelly, Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes, for better and (mostly) worse reasons.

Yet, while Hannity is a familiar face, newer stars like Tucker Carlson (2.617 million viewers) and Laura Ingraham (also 2.617 million viewers) have managed to fill in the gaps.

So, what could be responsible for Fox’s reinvigoration at the top of the charts? One answer could be consistent quality, no matter who the on-air talent is. Another answer — one that the left really won’t like — is that the fury Trump’s election precipitated has burned itself out.

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There are only so many times, after all, that viewers can be told by Rachel Maddow how something is really up with Russia, or Michael Avenatti can appear on CNN to say how Trump is going down. There are only so many “town halls” hosted by Don Lemon or lectures from Chris Hayes one can stomach.

If this is a sign that the anti-Trump fever is breaking, that has to be somewhat unsettling for Democrats, particularly since it’s just a few months away from the midterms. As it stands, the polls have already shown the “blue wave” is maybe a blue faucet at best.

If the anger is dying away, the Democrats don’t have a whole lot more left to work with.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture