Talk about a tale of two cable news networks. With its 53rd consecutive quarter total audience win, Fox News Channel saw a 10% primetime rise among adults 25-54 in first-quarter 2015 over last year. In fact, with 321,000 on average among the 25-54s in primetime, Fox News thrashed rivals CNN (187,000) and MSNBC (132,000) with more news demo viewers than the other two combined, according to Nielsen.
Contrast that to the fate of the NBCUniversal-owned MSNBC, which not only saw a 39% drop in the demo compared to Q1 2014 but its worst quarterly result in the category since Q2 2005. If that almost decade-old result wasn’t enough of a blow, and rising CNN’s fourth consecutive win over MSNBC in prime didn’t cut deep enough, take a look at the gutting the cabler newser’s nighttime offerings are suffering.
With just 145,000 viewers among the 25-54s on average over the December 29, 2014 – March 29, 2015 period, the once-proud flagship The Rachel Maddow Show hit an all-time quarter low with the worst result since its September 8, 2008 launch. Not only is Maddow down 46% in the demo, but her 9 PM show is also down 19% in total viewers. Fellow primetime show All In With Chris Hayes and Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell fell to their worst quarterly demo ratings since their respective 2013 and 2010 debuts. O’Donnell’s show also had its lowest total quarterly viewership results. And 7 PM’s Hardball With Chris Matthews had its lowest-rated quarter in the demo since 2Q 2005 with an average viewership of 126,000.
Does it even seem worth mentioning that CNN sister station HLN beat MSNBC for the fourth quarter in a row in total day demo? Or that MSNBC lost out to its own sister station CNBC in primetime demo for the second quarter in row? Well, they did.
There was more good news for Jeff Zucker this quarter as CNN saw an 11% rise in the demo and a 7% bop upwards in total viewers (535,000) in primetime over Q1 2014. Now solidly No. 2 behind Fox News, Zucker’s CNN beat his old NBC colleagues at the cable news network in total day by the biggest quarterly margin in eight years in the news demo and since 3Q 2006 in total viewers. CNN had an audience of 466,000 in total day with 147,000 in the demo for a 22% and 20% rise over Q1 2014. MSNBC had 316,000 total day total viewers and 85,000 adults 25-54, a drop of 20% and a hard 38% from the same period last year. With 1.068 million total viewers and 209,000 in the total day demo, Fox News was fairly steady with a 3% and 7% dip from Q1 2014.
Ranked fourth in all cable in primetime and total day viewers, Fox News had the five top watched and rated shows on cable news for the quarter. With 2.836 million and 509,000 respectively, The O’Reilly Factor was tops for the 60th quarter in a row with a 2% rise in total viewership and a 19% jump in the demo. That’s its best result in the former category since Q2 2013 and its best in the former since Q4 2012. The Kelly File (2.246 million/413,000), The Five (2.160 million/338,000) Special Report With Bret Baier (2.079 million/333.000) and On The Record With Greta Van Susteren (1.860 million/315,000) filled out the rest of the top 5.
Coming behind an 11 PM Factor repeat and in 16th place, The Rachel Maddow Show was MSNBC’s top cable news offering in total viewers. CNN’s AC 360 was that network’s best in 17th place. In the 25-54 demo, Anderson Cooper’s show was 12th while Maddow was MSNBC’s best at No. 26.