Cable-News Viewership Falls After Trump’s Exit, Ratings Races Tighten

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U.S. cable-news viewership fell for all major networks in the first three months of the year, as the country moved past the presidential election and its chaotic aftermath.

Fox News lost 32% of its total prime-time audience compared with the quarter ended Dec. 31, Nielsen data show. CNN and MSNBC had smaller declines of 16% and 7.8%, respectively, though each fell more substantially from highs they hit in January.

The ratings gap between the major players is tighter than it was a quarter ago, as all networks try to establish their approach at the outset of the Biden administration.

Fox News retained the No. 1 spot among prime-time viewers for the full quarter, averaging 2.58 million, though its lead has narrowed. MSNBC is second in that category with 2.29 million viewers, and CNN, which was No. 1 in the weeks after November’s election, is now No. 3 with 1.99 million.

Meanwhile, CNN moved into first place among prime-time viewers aged 25 to 54, a key demographic for advertisers, even as all networks lost viewers in that category. Fox News is No. 2 in that demographic. MSNBC drew the most daily viewers, with an average of 1.38 million watching over a 24-hour span, according to the Nielsen data.