Fox News had the best quarter in cable news history, thanks in large part to its flagship program, The O’Reilly Factor, which had the biggest quarter ever for a cable news show (4 million viewers). MSNBC, CNN and Fox were all mostly up in daily audience and demo numbers. While MSNBC beat out CNN on the weekdays, thanks to record-breaking viewership of Rachel Maddow during the 9:00 p.m. hour, CNN still beat out MSNBC in viewership for the quarter.
Why it matters: Even though Fox pulled out the biggest overall numbers, MSNBC’s growth from Q1 last year is notable. Per The Hollywood Reporter, MSNBC grew 55% and 61% in daytime and primetime, respectively, and 40% and 49% in the demo. CNN grew only 13% in daytime (+22% in the demo) but fell 17% in primetime (-11% in the demo). Fox’s growth was in between with gains of 27% in daytime ratings (+32% in the demo) and 20% in primetime (+19% in the demo)
Why it doesn’t matter: The fact that all three networks were up in total daily viewership means the Trump bump wasn’t exclusive to the election. Per Pew, all three networks have experienced ratings bumps since 2015, meaning that cable news could be increasing in viewership more broadly.