Prime Time Cable News Ratings: Trump Interview Tops The Week in A25-54 as CNN and MSNBC Compete for the Same Audience


Below is a table displaying the key Adults 25-54 demographic for prime time cable news programs, measured by Nielsen and reported by ShowBuzzDaily. Prime time programs not included in this chart were too low-rated to be reported. 

Current cable news ratings are markedly different from the direct aftermath of the 2020 presidential election. Toward the end of 2020, a sizable number of fervent supporters of former President Donald Trump ditched FOX News for Newsmax TV. Despite being a channel with a smaller reach, Newsmax’s Greg Kelly Tonight was regularly competitive with FOX News’s The Story in the 7 pm hour. Now, Newsmax does not register anything in the top 150 daily cable shows in A18-49. This is not because Fox News Primetime is a breakout hit; while a relative improvement on The Story, it’s no match for Tucker/Hannity and often loses to Gutfeld! at 11 pm. The point here is that FOX News has seen a full rebound, and no longer has much to worry about when it comes to having competition. 

The same cannot be said for CNN and MSNBC. While MSNBC has been an openly liberal-biased network for many years, it took until the Trump presidency for CNN to embrace a similar categorization. While MSNBC seems to focus more on Trump coverage than CNN, both are clearly splitting an audience, allowing FOX News to run away with the #1 spot. Some major areas for concern: the rebranding of CNN Tonight with Don Lemon to Don Lemon Tonight has done the show’s ratings no favors, and MSNBC regularly misses the top 50 in daily cable programs in Adults 18-49 for all prime time shows not hosted by Rachel Maddow. 

One thing all three networks agree upon is that former President Donald Trump is, as previously self-described, a ratings machine. Why else would CNN and MSNBC give so much coverage to the ex-President? It appears they have determined continuing with the anti-Trump message is their best option for ratings, even as their ratings plunge. In a week where the current President of the United States is facing his first major crisis with the entire world watching, the fact an interview done by Sean Hannity with Donald Trump topped the week in Adults 25-54 speaks volumes about the former President’s continued appeal with conservatives. 

The final takeaway here is that given these ratings, Americans who consume prime time cable news programs presumably tend to disapprove of President Joe Biden’s performance; you won’t hear much Biden praise on FOX News, especially on the prime time programs. Meanwhile, CNN and MSNBC have mostly given Biden a free pass up until now, where they still oftentimes give him the benefit of the doubt on the current crisis in Afghanistan. 

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