Accuracy in Media

Normally, in the year after a presidential election, interest in news wanes and ratings of the major cable news networks drop sharply as viewers return to pre-election viewing habits. That’s not the case this year as viewers have stayed tuned to Fox News, CNN and MSNBC in order to follow the ups and downs of the Trump administration.

That interest has boosted ratings across the board, with Fox News and MSNBC setting records and all three of the major cable news networks finishing in the Top 10 among all cable networks.

In the first quarter, Fox News Channel finished as the most-watched basic cable network in both prime time and Total Day viewers, extending the network’s streak as the top cable news network to 61 quarters in both Total Day and prime time. It was also FNC’s best quarter ever in terms of Total Day viewers.

FNC ratings were up 27 percent in Total Day viewers and 32 percent in the 25-54 demo. In prime time Fox saw an increase of 20 percent in total viewers and 19 percent in the demo, giving it its second most-watched quarter ever.

CNN’s ratings were mixed as they saw an increase of 12 percent in Total Day viewers and 22 percent in the demo, but lost 17 percent of total viewers and 11 percent in the demo during prime time. That drop is apparently the result of the 12 political events CNN broadcast in the first quarter of 2016, leading to a tough comparison this year. Despite that, the network still finished sixth in Total Day and tenth in prime time in all of cable.

Even though Fox and CNN did relatively well, the star of the ratings surge is MSNBC.

MSNBC’s ratings were up 61 percent in prime time total viewers and 49 percent in the demo compared to the same period one year ago, and was the ninth most-watched network in Total Day and sixth in prime time. It was the most-watched quarter in MSNBC’s history, albeit that was coming off a far lower base than Fox or CNN. But it’s still a solid number and shows how the anti-Trump liberals are coalescing around Rachel Maddow and her colleagues after years of Obama malaise.

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