MSNBC Wins Quarter in Total Day Viewers, But Fox News Wins March
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MSNBC Ekes Out First Quarterly Win in Total-Day Viewers, But Fox News Wins All of March
FNC also wins primetime for the quarter
MSNBC eked out a narrow victory over its cable rivals in total day viewers in the first quarter for the first time ever. The win was close: MSNBC averaged 1.38 million viewers while CNN averaged 1.36 million and Fox News averaged 1.34 million.
As a result, MSNBC’s total-day quarterly ratings beat Fox News’ for the first time since 2001 — though Fox News mounted a comeback for the month of March (more on that below).
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Fox News also scored a win in total primetime viewership for the quarter, as TheWrap previously projected, drawing 2.480 million total average viewers from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET. MSNBC averaged 2.238 million primetime viewers in that time period while CNN saw 1.935 million.
But if you just look at weekdays, MSNBC scored the narrowest of wins in primetime too: From Monday to Friday, MSNBC’s primetime lineup averaged 2.91489 million viewers compared to Fox News’ 2.9187 million.
All of the cable news networks saw declines in total viewership following the ratings boom in the weeks following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, President Joe Biden’s inauguration and former President Trump’s impeachment trial, which happened back-to-back in the first weeks of the year of the year. Fox News, MSNBC and CNN all saw ratings declines last month compared to March 2020.
In total for March, MSNBC had the smallest drop-off in total viewers, averaging 1.022 million total viewers for a total loss of 19% — and a drop of 41% in the advertiser-coveted age demographic of 25 to 54. CNN, meanwhile, averaged 812,000 total viewers in March, down 32% overall and 48% in the demo. Fox News led March with an average of 1.272 million viewers, which was down 40% from last March. Fox News was also down 51% in the key demo.
The week of the Capitol insurrection, CNN averaged 2.130 million total viewers, MSNBC averaged 1.249 million and Fox News averaged 1.164 million in total-day viewership.
The week of the Jan. 20 inauguration of Biden, CNN averaged 1.144 million total viewers, Fox News averaged 1.114 million and MSNBC had 920,000. There were steady declines for all of the networks following that point, barring the spike in early February during Trump’s second impeachment trial. That week, CNN brought in an average of 1.467 million viewers, Fox News averaged 1.356 million and MSNBC scored 1.336 million.