May was a big news month — Baltimore, Amtrak, Boston bombing verdict, FIFA – giving cable news networks a lot to boast about, ratings-wise.
Fox News Channel, for instance, extended its streak to 161 consecutive months as No. 1 in overall audience among cable news nets, in both total day and primetime, dating to January 2002. Every FNC program from 9AM ET through 10PM ET was up in both total viewers and the news demo, with double-digit gains during most time slots. In primetime across the full week, the network jumped 11% in total viewers and 42% among viewers ages 25-54. FNC beat CNN and MSNBC combined in total viewers in both dayparts. And FNC ranked third in all of basic cable in primetime total viewers for the third consecutive month, behind TNT and ESPN. In total day, FNC ranked No. 4. CNN’s closest position was No. 20 in total day among viewers of all ages. MSNBC ranked No. 30.
But CNN clocked the biggest gains in May versus last year and the biggest increases among the top 35 cable nets of any genre. CNN shot up 44% in primetime in total viewers and 51% in the news demo; in total day, CNN spiked 42% in overall audience and 55% in the news demo. Among its highlights, CNN OutFront climbed 107%, Erin Burnett OutFront up 101%, and AC360 up 61%. May marks CNN’s 11th consecutive month besting MSNBC in the news demo for total day.
HLN, meanwhile, crowed it now has outperformed MSNBC for the past 12 consecutive months in total day in the news demo. In total day, HLN rose 6% in overall audience and 5% in the news demo and 15% in 18-49 compared with May 2014.
MSNBC seems not to have gotten an invitation to the party. The network slid 9% in total day total viewers and 19% in the news demo. In primetime, MSNBC tumbled 14% in total viewers and 18% in the demo. MSNBC logged its lowest full week primetime total viewer performance since June 2007.