By Associated Press
NEW YORK — Cable television news has never been more in vogue and so competitive.
Several programs on MSNBC and CNN had their most-watched months ever in January, the Nielsen company said. CNN as a network did so, too, in a newsy month where the Capitol insurrection and President Joe Biden’s inauguration left a lot to talk about.
For the weekday prime-time schedule — the heart of the networks — MSNBC averaged 3.31 million viewers, CNN had 3.12 million and Fox News Channel had 2.89 million. Fox has been the top-rated cable news network for 19 years, and this represented the first month it finished third to its rivals since 1999, Nielsen said.
Over the full day, CNN averaged 1.91 million viewers for the month (up 151% from January 2020). MSNBC had 1.66 million (up 65%) and Fox News Channel was 1.37 million (down 20%).
Fox News returned to the top in prime-time ratings last week, the first full week of the Biden administration, Nielsen said. The major trends are continuing, however: CNN is markedly up over last year, MSNBC is up by a smaller margin and Fox is declining.
For the week, CBS was the most-watched broadcast network, averaging 4.7 million viewers in prime time. ABC had 3.6 million, NBC had 3 million, Fox had 2.6 million, Univision had 1.4 million, Telemundo had 1.12 million and Ion Television had 1.11 million.
Fox News Channel led among the cable networks, averaging 2.56 million viewers. MSNBC had 2.23 million, CNN had 1.79 million, HGTV had 1.33 million and History had 1.03 million.
ABC’s “World News Tonight” led the evening news ratings race with an average of 9.9 million viewers. NBC’s “Nightly News” had 8.3 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 6.2 million.
CNN is owned by AT&T /zigman2/quotes/203165245/composite T +0.67% , MSNBC is owned by Comcast /zigman2/quotes/209472081/composite CMCSA +1.79% , and Fox News is a unit of Fox Corp. /zigman2/quotes/209921865/composite FOX -0.14% , which shares common ownership with MarketWatch parent News Corp /zigman2/quotes/204787942/composite NWS +0.38% .