After several of the strongest months in their collective history, the major cable networks saw their ratings dip in April compared with an unprecedented first quarter. But they remained strong compared with April 2016.
Ratings in April dipped for CNN and Fox News in prime time from 8-11 p.m. compared with last quarter, which the networks heralded as record-shattering.
Despite high-profile internal turmoil that has rattled its leadership and lineup, Fox News posted the highest primetime ratings of the cable networks, averaging 2,441,000 total viewers, including 488,000 viewers between the ages of 25 and 54, the coveted demographic for advertisers.
Fox said total viewership was up 28% over last year in primetime, including a 42% year-over-year increase in the target demographic.
MSNBC saw a slight ratings boost in its primetime shows from last quarter’s averages. The network averaged 1,564,000 total viewers between 8-11 p.m., including 359,000 total viewers between 25 and 54. The network also posted an 82% increase in primetime viewers over last April.
Rachel Maddow’s show remained the biggest draw for the network’s primetime lineup. The left-leaning host’s 9 p.m. show averaged 2.4 million total viewers last month, including 562,000 total viewers in the 25-54 age demographic, higher than Fox’s 9 p.m. slot occupied by Tucker Carlson for part of the month and the new cast of “The Five” for the final week of April.
Though CNN’s morning and daytime lineups continue to best MSNBC in total and average viewers, its primetime lineup lagged behind both Fox and MSNBC. The network averaged 998,000 total viewers in primetime, about 200,000 fewer viewers than last quarter, and 357,000 in the key demo.
The numbers come amid a shakeup at Fox News, where the ratings king Bill O’Reilly was ousted after allegations of sexual harassment.
Its new lineup posted strong initial numbers last week, but it’s unclear whether Carlson can match O’Reilly’s sky-high ratings in the 8 p.m. hour.
Any drama at Fox News doesn’t appear to have affected its business-network arm. Fox Business Network bested CNBC, once considered the undisputed business-network leader, for the seventh consecutive month.