In science, an experiment usually must be conducted three times with the same result to be considered a success. By that measure and metaphor, the latest monthly cable ratings results make Fox News Channel look very successful this summer.
For a third month in a row, the Rupert Murdoch-owned cable newser has topped all of basic cable in primetime viewership. Fueled by the advertiser-afflicted Tucker Carlson Tonight, cable news big dog Hannity and The Ingraham Angle, FNC drew 2.4 million viewers for August on average, according to Nielsen. Up a smidge from July in overall audience, Fox News rose 6% in primetime viewership compared with August 2018.
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In the key news demo of adults 25-54, FNC had 375,000 viewers, an 11% decline year over year. That was undoubtedly in no small part due to the well-watched two-night and two-part Democratic debates that CNN aired at the end of July. In fact, the Jeff Zucker-led outlet not only was up 40% over last August in total viewers for a 1.5 million result, but it also beat FNC in the demo with 391,000. That marks the best August result CNN has ever had, a 13% rise in 25-54s over last year, and a 95% uptick over July 2019’s demo viewership.
While FNC was No. 1 in primetime viewership in all of basic cable this month and celebrated its 38th consecutive month as tops in total-day audience, that other cable newser, MSNBC, got burned this hot August.
Down 16% in total day viewers from last August to 870,000, and down 20% in primetime viewers from last year to 1.48 million, the NBCUniversal-owned outlet beat CNN in total viewers in both categories. However, this month also saw MSNBC garner just 222,000 in the 25-54 primetime demo to match July as the channel’s worst result since Donald Trump entered the White House.
Similar to MSNBC’s primetime demo result, not a lot changed in the cable news show rankings from July to August. Sean Hannity’s 9 PM ET perch was still No. 1 for a fifth month in a row with 3.3 million tuning in, even with last month.
Weathering a series of advertiser losses and outrage over incendiary remarks about the true scope of white supremacy in America, Tucker Carlson Tonight was No. 2 again with 3.1 million viewers. The Ingraham Angle’s audience of 2.6 million, The Five’s viewership of 2.5 million and, once again the only non-FNC show in the cable news top 5, The Rachel Maddow Show’s 2.3 million, saw all the same shows in the same place compared with last month with small variations in their results.
Worth noting: In that highly charged 9 PM ET slot, CNN’s Chris Cuomo pulls in less than half of Maddow with 1.11 million viewers.
Also worth noting: With 14 months to go until the 2020 Presidential election, FNC, CNN and MSNBC will be coming out swinging from the respective corners to get more and more of those well-paying and highly competitive political ad dollars – which will be the real on-air battlefield next year.