The latest cable ratings are not good tidings for Fox News
The official Nielsen Media Research cable TV ratings for the weekend of June 10 and 11, 2017 are out, and the ping-pong effect of the popularity of the three cable news channels is continuing. Overall, Fox News (FNC) continues in a weakened position compared with its performance in past years. This change in the fortunes of FNC followed the upheavals in management and the imposition of a weak new lineup of programs this spring.
Cable news ratings for Saturdays and Sundays are often very different from ratings for weekdays. For one thing, MSNBC, the consistently virulent anti-Trump channel, is now beating FNC and CNN during most weekdays. But on weekend evenings, much of MSNBC's schedule is inexplicably devoted not to news, but to reality shows focusing on the lives of convicted criminals behind bars. In the current hyper-polarized political climate, these "lockup" programs are not ratings winners.
TVNewser publishes the Nielsen cable news TV ratings online. Its "Scorecard" for Saturday, June 10 shows that in the preferred demographic of viewers between the ages of 25 and 54, FNC won both the total day and prime time, in thousands of viewers: 272 (FNC), 211 (CNN), and 148 (MSNBC). Justice with Judge Jeanine Pirro on FNC, a conservative mainstay, was the number-one program of all cable news channel shows on Saturday night.
Turning our attention to Sunday, June 11, the picture is different. CNN won the demo in both total day with FNC second, while CNN was comfortably ahead of Fox News in prime time. Between 4 and 11 P.M. E.T., CNN beat Fox (and MSNBC) in every hour with the exception of 6 and 7 P.M., when the two-hour block of live news programs on FNC slightly topped CNN's. The highest rated program in prime time on Sunday was an episode of comedian W. Kamau Bell's United Shades of America titled "Puerto Ricans and Puerto Rico" at 10 P.M. Bell's documentary series is in its second season. The second outing of FNC's The Next Revolution with Steve Hilton at 9 P.M. lost one third of its audience in the demo compared with its premiere one week earlier and came in second. The competition on CNN at 9 P.M., Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown "Oman," added 32,000 viewers in the demo compared with its outing on June 4 for a first-place showing. The biggest surprise was the 9 P.M. episode of Lockup Raw on MSNBC, the demo audience of which increased 60% from the previous Sunday, which placed the program right behind The Next Revolution.
Also published by TVNewser on Tuesday were the ratings for Monday, June 12. FNC won the total day in the demo, but MSNBC was first in prime time, and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow had the most watched program of the night at 9 P.M. Maddow's show has been outperforming all other cable news programs on most nights in recent weeks.
The ratings for the week (M-F) of June 5 were not exactly good news for Fox, either. As TVNewser reported, MSNBC "happened to finish the week as the No. 1 cable news network in the key age 25-54 demographic," with the channel's audience having grown "+57 percent year-over-year in total day viewers."
For readers who want to get down even farther into the weeds on this subject, TVNewser's article on cable TV ratings from one year ago – the week of June 6, 2016, when Fox News was declared "the most-watched basic cable network ... in both total day and prime time" – is still online, and it illustrates the contrasts with the three news channel ratings exactly one year later.
Meanwhile, on Sunday June 11, on the NBC broadcast network, Megyn Kelly, formerly the breakout star of Fox News until she quit last January, had the second showing of her high-profile new show, Sunday Night. In its first head-to-head match-up with CBS's venerable 60 Minutes, Sunday Night had only one half the total audience of 60 Minutes. Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly lost half the total audience from its premiere on June 4, which featured Kelly's interview with Russian Federation president Vladimir Putin. On June 11, Kelly had 800,000 viewers in the 25- to 54-year-old demo compared to 1.2 million for 60 Minutes. Kelly's total viewers numbered 3.6 million vs. 7.9 million for 60 Minutes.
Peter Barry Chowka's bio with links to some of his articles can be accessed here.