To borrow from CBS CEO Leslie Moonves’ comment earlier this week, Donald Trump may not be good for the United States, but he’s been great for cable news.
Fox News Channel was the most watched basic cable network in both primetime and total day for the first time in 13 years. CNN, meanwhile, ranked No. 1 among cable news networks in primetime in the news demo, with its best primetime stats in both the demo and in total viewers since November of 2008. And MSNBC bagged its best Monday-Friday primetime performance since December 2012.
It’s the first time FNC has finished as the month’s most watched basic cable net in primetime and total day in 13 years, dating back to the Iraq war. Fueled by primary coverage, FNC outstripped all other cable networks with an average of 2.3 million viewers in primetime and 1.4 million total-day viewers. FNC topped all cable news networks for primary coverage out of Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada in total viewers; the network’s coverage of the Iowa caucus delivered a primary-coverage record 4.4 million viewers from 8 PM to midnight.
The O’Reilly Factor was the highest rated cable news program with 3.2 million viewers and 539K news-demo viewers. Bill O’Reilly’s was the only FNC primetime show to finish the month ahead of its CNN timeslot competition in the news demo.
FNC’s The Kelly File was No. 2 with 2.4 million total viewers; Megyn Kelly clocked 467K news demo viewers.
February – a month of caucusing/primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina – saw CNN shoot up 203% in the news demo in Monday through Friday primetime, to a leading 610K viewers. In total viewers, CNN, which telecast an impressive six party debates and town hall Q&As in February, catapulted 242% to 2M viewers, but was eclipsed by FNC’s 2.6M (which repped a 16% gain for that network). For the month, CNN jumped to No. 4 in primetime and No. 10 in total day among all basic cable networks. MSNBC ranked No. 18 in primetime and No. 20 in total day.
February spread the ratings wealth, cable news-wise. In addition to its total-viewer primetime win, Fox News Channel climbed 16% in the news demo (513K viewers), while MSNBC bounced 146% (300K), and HLN inched up 6% (115K.) In total viewers, in addition to FNC and CNN’s successes, MSNBC jumped 87% (1.2M) and HLN grew 14% (356K).
In full-week total day, FNC was No. 1 among cable news networks in total viewers (1.3M, up 19%) and in the news demo (264K, up 16%). MSNBC’s percent gain was greatest: up 65% in the news demo (135K) and 69% in overall audience (528K). CNN’s haul in both metrics trailed only FNC’s with a 47% gain in the demo (212K) and 57% climb in total viewers (735K).