MSNBC found itself in unprecedented ratings territory for the week of May 15: in first place across the board in primetime.
The channel, which has been on a ratings upswing in the past few months, scored a victory in both total viewers and the key news demographic of adults 25-54 for May 15-19. It averaged 2.44 million viewers overall and 611,000 in the 25-54 demo for MSNBC’s first across-the-board primetime ratings win in its 21-year history.
CNN was second in the 25-54 demographic for the week with 588,000 viewers, and Fox News trailed with 497,000. Fox News ranked third in the demographic for all five nights, its longest such streak in nearly 17 years, most of which it’s spent at No. 1.
In total viewers, MSNBC’s 2.44 million edged Fox News’ 2.41 million. CNN finished third with 1.65 million. If you add the weekend, Fox News (2.21 million) moves ahead of MSNBC (1.86 million).
Fox News did still win the total-day viewership crown with 1.5 million, to MSNBC’s 1.2 million and CNN’s 1.08 million. The adults 25-54 total-day race went CNN, 353,000; Fox News, 321,000; and MSNBC, 281,000.
In other words, the PR departments of each news channel can claim a win of some sort.
MSNBC’s primetime victory in the 25-54 demographic is its second straight; prior to that, it hadn’t finished on top of the weekly charts since the week of Dec. 28, 2009. It had never drawn the biggest total audience among news channels in primetime before.
“The Rachel Maddow Show” led the way for MSNBC with 760,000 viewers among adults 25-54 and 2.93 million overall. The surge was fueled by a huge week of news that included President Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey and the fallout that came afterward.
“The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” also led its time period in the 25-54 demo, as did “11th Hour with Brian Williams” and the Maddow replay outside of primetime.