MSNBC tooted its own horn on Wednesday, celebrating its first weekly ratings victory over Fox News in more than 17 years. Last week, MSNBC was the No. 1 cable news network in both the coveted 24-to-54 demographic and among all viewers, in both daytime and prime time, according to Nielsen. Fox News was even behind CNN in daytime viewers, its first time in the No. 3 slot since October 2001, MSNBC said. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow had the top program across all cable news, beating Fox News' Sean Hannity by nearly 2-to-1 among the 24-54 demographic.
In fact, "Maddow has been beating Hannity outright in December, a turnaround from October," when Fox News absolutely dominated cable news, The Associated Press notes. Hannity will end the year with the most-watched show on cable news for the second year in a row, but his ratings from the midterm elections through last week are down 19 percent versus October, and 30 percent lower among the 24-54 demographic.
"I think it's a reflection of the mood of his audience," Mark Lukasiewicz, dean of Hofstra University's communications school and a longtime NBC executive, tells AP. "They can't be happy with what is coming out of Washington every day." Hannity is very tight with President Trump, and as Trump's political fortunes have soured, Hannity has focused on other things. "Even hard-core Trump fans are starting to put Hillary Clinton in their rear-view mirrors and say, 'it's been two years,'" Lukasiewicz said.
Hannity's prime-time Fox News colleagues Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson have also been down by double digits since the election, but Trump has been a tide that's lifted all cable news boats, according to Nielsen data. Fox News will end the year as the top-rated network on all of basic cable for a third year running, and MSNBC will end in third place, drawing its biggest audience it its history. Even CNN, No. 11 on basic cable, will likely have its third-best year ever.
UPDATE: Fox News says that, if you look at Nielsen's Monday-Sunday data, it beat MSNBC in total day viewers, though not prime time.