Fox News Channel finished May as the most-watched network across all of basic cable for the 35th straight month as CNN continued its downward spiral and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow had her worst month of the Trump administration.
Fox News averaged 1.3 million total day viewers, while MSNBC finished second with an average of 909,000. TNT, ESPN and HGTV round out the top five while the liberal CNN finished eighth, averaging only 552,000.
The NBA playoffs-heavy TNT topped the primetime leaderboard, averaging 2.5 million viewers from 8-11 p.m. ET. Fox News finished second, averaging 2.4 million, followed by ESPN, MSNBC and HGTV while CNN failed to crack the Top 15 with a bleak primetime average of only 761,000 viewers.
“Hannity” averaged 3.1 million viewers to finish as the most-watched program on cable news, followed by “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” finished third, with FNC’s “The Ingraham Angle” and “The Five” rounding out the top five. Maddow had her worst month since President Trump took office despite finishing third in both categories.
Beleaguered CNN’s most-watched show was “Cuomo Prime Time,” which finished No. 25 overall, behind 14 different Fox News shows and 10 programs on MSNBC. CNN’s other struggling primetime shows, “Anderson Cooper 360” and “CNN Tonight with Don Lemon,” finished 26th and 35th, respectively.
FNC thumped MSNBC and CNN among the key demographic of adults aged 25-54, too, averaging 231,000 total day viewers and 377,000 during primetime. MSNBC averaged 134,000 total day and 242,000 primetime demo viewers, while CNN averaged 137,000 in total day and only 185,000 during primetime.
CNN’s dismal showing in the total day demo was the network’s worst monthly performance in the category since Aug. 2015. It was also MSNBC’s worst month in the demo since Dec. 2016.
“Hannity,” “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” “The Rachel Maddow Show,” “The Ingraham Angle” and “The Five” also finished as the most-watched cable news shows among the key demo, while “Cuomo Prime Time” suffered an all-time low among viewers age 25-54.
“The Greg Gutfeld Show” proved that Fox News also thrives on the weekend, as it averaged 1.8 million total viewers to beat heavily promoted broadcast shows including ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers” and CBS’ “Late Late Show with James Corden.”
All ratings data courtesy of Nielsen Media Research.
CNN boss Jeff Zucker recently told the Los Angeles Times that he feels viewership will rebound as the 2020 presidential race unfolds in an article that was conveniently published the day before the network’s lackluster ratings were announced. However, famed journalist-turned-investment banker Porter Bibb feels that CNN should change its current programming strategy.
“Zucker's leadership at CNN is in jeopardy since the network is in ratings freefall and has continued to diminish its hard news coverage in favor of politicized 'town halls' and other CNN-produced non-news specials,” Bibb told Fox News.
While Bibb feels that Zucker’s leadership is in jeopardy, the CNN honcho was actually given more responsibility when WarnerMedia announced restructuring as part of AT&T’s takeover of the media conglomerate earlier this year. Zucker now oversees Turner Sports, Bleacher Report and regional sports networks in addition to the struggling cable news network.
“There's no accounting for AT&T's moves,” Bibb said. “It remains to be seen whether the telecom mentality can ever make a success of a media/entertainment/news conglomerate. The jury is out but Zucker is living on borrowed time.”
WarnerMedia did not immediately respond when asked if the company is concerned about CNN’s ratings.
But viewership wasn’t the only issue for CNN during the month of May, as the network was the subject of a variety of damaging headlines. Over 100 veteran employees accepted a voluntary buyout as CNN looks to reduce headcount, losing key leaders in the process. Then a CNN spokesperson called potential mass layoffs a “crazy rumor,” but the company eventually began sending employees packing anyway. The Atlanta-based department that covers health and the London operation have both been impacted so far and insiders feel that additional changes are looming.
The network’s White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, also angered colleagues this month by admitting that “neutrality doesn’t really serve” CNN when covering President Trump.
“It’s disgraceful on two levels. First, [Acosta] insists on making himself the center of the story, the antithesis of good journalism. His ego knows no bounds. Second, he actually admits he’s a pundit. He’d be a good one, articulate and persuasive guy, but stop pretending to be a reporter,” a prominent CNN employee told Fox News on Wednesday.