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Fox News makes gains in 1Q cable news ratings while CNN, MSNBC suffer steep declines

Fox News Channel was the only cable news network to make year-over-year ratings gains in the first quarter of 2022, finishing the quarter in first place and marking 81 consecutive quarters as the most-watched network in all of basic cable. FNC’s competitors, CNN and MSNBC, both suffered steep ratings declines compared to the same period one year ago.

In prime time, Fox News finished the quarter with an average total audience of 2.554 million viewers, up 3% from 2021, according to ratings data compiled by Nielsen. MSNBC finished the quarter in second place with an average total audience of 1.205 million viewers—down 46%, while CNN finished third with an average total audience of less than a million viewers: 857,000 viewers, down a staggering 56% from 2021.

Among viewers 25-54, the demographic group most valued by advertisers, FNC was first with 429,000 viewers (up 9% year-over-year), followed by CNN (232,000 viewers, down 56%) and MSNBC (149,000 viewers, down 59%).

Fox News’ The Five was the most-watched show in cable news for the quarter, which puts the show in the record books as the first show to air outside prime time to take first place in two consecutive quarters. The Five drew an average total audience of 3.676 million viewers. FNC swept the top five shows for the quarter, with The Five followed by Tucker Carlson Tonight (3.617 million viewers), Jesse Watters Primetime (3.124 million viewers), Hannity (3.057 million viewers) and Special Report with Bret Baier (2.72 million viewers).

In the key demo, Fox’s Tucker Carlson Tonight finished first for the quarter, with an average audience of 626,000 viewers, followed by The Five (554,000 viewers), Jesse Watters Primetime (522,000 viewers), Hannity (513,000 viewers), and Special Report with Bret Baier (444,000 viewers).

While the quarterly ratings were discouraging for both CNN and MSNBC, CNN will point to March—dominated by coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine—as a bright spot. For the month, CNN’s prime time ratings were up slightly—just 1% from the same month one year ago—but up significantly (+25%) in the key demo.

Fox News still won the month overall, with an average prime time audience of 2.863 million viewers (up 19%), followed by MSNBC (1.283 million viewers, down 29%) and CNN (1.219 million viewers).

In the key demo, Fox News finished first in March, with an average prime time audience of 529,000 viewers (up 41%), followed by CNN (366,000 viewers, up 25%) and MSNBC (183,000 viewers, down 23%). Forbes

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