Rebecca Takes On the Cable News, Week of February 19: The Networks Face Their Last Week Against the Olympics. Thank God.

I'm gonna cut right to it. This was a horrific week of ratings for cable news ratings. Except for one network's primetime lineup, the declines were universal. But thankfully for cable ratings, the Olympics are finally over. Hopefully this will show in the ratings next week. If not... oof.

I expressed doom and gloom above, but truth be told, MSNBC actually had a pretty good week. They hold four of the five shows that actually increased this week, including cable news's #1 show and #1 primetime lineup. They held those two prestigious honors for a third and second week, respectively. It was a blowout once again for The Rachel Maddow Show, which ticked up about half a percent and consistently posted strong ratings. This wasn't actually the network's biggest success story, though. All In with Chris Hayes rose to its best-ever placement on the chart (#6), and soared 5% in raw ratings.  The Last Word also had a fantastic showing, and it eyed a bronze finish, off just a tenth from Hannity and taking fourth. This sure was a dominant lineup this week, but with less lost from the Olymics, they also have less to gain. Fox News will certainly give it a run for its money in the coming weeks. Velshi & Ruhle also had a good week, once again. It's still the perennial last place show, but for a show that can hit such volatile numbers, it's safe to say that this week's performance was a good one. Things get less positive from here. Morning Joe sank about 4% from last week, which isn't great, but it managed to nab a 12th place finish, mostly due to horrid performances from some CNN and Fox News shows that typically out-rate it. Deadline: White House had no silver lineup. This performance was straight-up bad, with a 16% drop and a drop to 14th. MSNBC probably isn't thrilled about that weak D:WH performance, but they have plenty to be happy about.

CNN houses one show that gained in the ratings this week, and that's it. However, it's a nice-sized gain, easily the biggest of the week. That show is CNN Tonight, and the reason for that surge is obvious: it had a huge lead-in for one of its airings last week, a Stoneman Douglas town hall that drew a 0.71. That alone makes this performance much less impressive. It deserves credit for its gain, but that gain isn't really on its own merit. Still, it's the best of the rest. The week left most other CNN shows in ruins. No show was more affected than Erin Burnett OutFront, which collapsed about 25% in the ratings this week and slipped from fourth to ninth. It also went from CNN's #1 show to the network's #3 show. Yeah, not good. News for The Lead was also not good, as it also tumbled 25%. Its consolation prize is that it held at 11th this week despite that gain, but its margin over #13 was much smaller. In primetime, CNN's signature series Anderson Cooper 360 tumbled 14% and two spots, down to seventh. It did, however, remain CNN's #1 show. I guess that's something. The anemic daytime shows got even more anemic, especially At This Hour. CNN's lowest-rated show that we cover here fell 17% in one week, and and dipped to second last. It's never been a powerhouse, but that rings especially true this week. Wolf, a show that's really been down on its luck lately, was down about 5%. That's a smaller decline than the rest of CNN, but that's not to say that the show should pad itself on the back. Like Morning Joe, it also benefited from sagging ratings from competitors, rising to 13th after a horrid 16th placement last week.

Fox News:
If CNN was down on its luck this week, Fox News fell flat on its own face. Every show was down this week by noticable amounts, and they nearly lost to CNN in primetime. The network was certainly the most affected by the Olympics out of the big three cable news networks. Down the most this week was last week's most impressive show, Shepard Smith Reporting. That show dipped about 45%. Its primetime lineup did badly too, but nowhere near that badly. The Ingraham Angle was down about 7%. I was ready to name it the loser of the week for the second week in a row, but it had a really nice second half of the week and will easily avoid that title. Its week wasn't exactly good, but it probably had the best week of any Fox News show, despite a horrible start. Hannity and Tucker Carlson also dipped about 7% each, but both were more-or-less consistent throughout the week and had poor trends the whole week. Morning show Fox & Friends did its thing and held up pretty well, dropping just 4% working its way into the Top 10 once again. However, it had some fugly numbers this week, so it's not really out of the woods. But Fox News can take salace in one thing: the Olympics are over. Hopefully that can help them. If not, god help Fox News.

And now for the Winners & Losers:

Winner of the Week: The Last Word
This show has maintained a pretty low profile here, never really excelling but never bombing either. This week, though, it did just enough to win the week. It didn't have any wow moments, but it more than held its own in a tough week. I have to praise it for that. It was a solid performer all week, and never posted any number that were less than solid. I commend it on a job well done.

Loser of the Week: Shepard Smith Reporting
I really can't believe it's come to this. After declaring it a winner just last week, I have to declare Shepard Smith Reporting this week's biggest loser. I expected a drop after last week's boosted numbers, but this drop is unacceptable. The show sank to its lowest numbers in some time, with a drop from 7th to 14th. This is its worst performance since the premiere of Rebecca Takes on the Cable News. I toyed with the idea of giving this "honor" to another show, but when it comes down to it, no other show deserves it more.

Here's the thing that keeps you coming back, the Chart for the week of February 19th:

And the primetime network chart:
What did you think of this week's cable news developments? Who are your winners and losers this week? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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