Fox News dominates with new lineup, but cable primetime ratings dip slightly following historic highs

With a new lineup, Fox News continued to dominate the cable-news ratings race in the first week of May, while ratings overall continued to fall after reaching historic highs on the heels of President Donald Trump’s election and early months in office.

In the first week of its new permanent schedule, Fox News remained the highest-rated network on cable overall in total-day viewers. According to a Fox News press release, primetime ratings were up 4% compared to last year in total viewers, including 18% among the coveted 25- to 54-year-old age demographic

In its second week with a new primetime lineup, the network fell to the second-rated network behind TNT, which has been airing the NBA playoffs.

The network averaged 2.1 million viewers in primetime, including 426,000 among the 25- to 54-year-old age demographic. MSNBC averaged about 1.4 million viewers in primetime, including 328,000 in the 25-54 age range, while CNN averaged 778,000 in primetime, including 283,000 in the coveted demographic.

With a slower-paced start than the first full week of last month, the top shows across the networks in primetime also fell slightly from higher-rated weeks in April.

Tucker Carlson’s 8 p.m. show on Fox, for instance, averaged 2.7 million viewers, including 504,000 in the demographic.

The show remained the highest-viewed cable-news program on television, but it was slightly down from its averages last month — roughly 3.2 million total viewers and 575,000 in the demographic.

In its new time slot at 9 p.m., “The Five” bested MSNBC and CNN with 2.36 million average viewers, including 501,000 in the target demographic.

MSNBC’s flagship primetime show hosted by Rachel Maddow also dropped slightly last month. It remained the biggest draw for the network’s primetime lineup, but average viewership dropped from 2.4 million total viewers last month, including 562,000 total viewers in the target demographic, to roughly 2.1 million and 483,000 viewers between the ages of 25 and 54.

Despite its lower primetime ratings, CNN remained the second-rated network last week, buoyed by its higher viewership during the day.

Though Americans continue to tune into cable news in high numbers, ratings dipped last month, the first notable drop since television viewership skyrocketed after the 2016 election.

Fox’s viewership has been the subject of heightened scrutiny since news ratings king Bill O’Reilly was ousted following allegations of sexual harassment.

The revelations shook up the network’s primetime lineup, and preceded several lawsuits against the network at parent company 21st Century Fox that some critics say could jeopardize the company’s attempted acquisition of Sky News in Europe.

For its part, some employees at MSNBC have grumbled about the network’s shift toward the center. Within the last several months, the left-leaning network debuted shows by former Fox News host Greta Van Susteren and Nicole Wallace, a former aide to President George W. Bush. It has also added conservative commentators Hugh Hewitt and George Will as contributors.

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