Fox News most-watched cable network in early 2018; MSNBC growth surges

Fox News most-watched cable network in early 2018; MSNBC growth surges
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Fox News extended its reign as the most-watched cable news network for the 65th consecutive quarter in the first three months of 2018 in both total viewers and the key 25- to 54-year-old demographic advertisers covet most.

According to Nielsen Media Research, Fox had the top-rated program in total viewers via Sean Hannity's 9 p.m. program, which delivered an average of 3.2 million viewers.

MSNBC, which was the only cable news network to grow its audience when compared to the first quarter in 2017, had the highest-rated program in the 25- to 54-year-old demographic with "The Rachel Maddow Show." It averaged 664,000 viewers in the category, while Hannity had 662,000.

Overall, Hannity, Maddow, Fox's Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham and MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell rounded out the top five in total viewers.

In the 25- to 54-year-old demographic, Maddow and Hannity were also followed in the same order by Carlson, Ingraham and O'Donnell.

In the category of "total day," which marks the time from 6 a.m. to 6 a.m. the following day, Nielsen shows Fox News being the highest-rated channel in all of basic cable as well, averaging 1.45 million viewers and topping MSNBC and HGTV. 

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MSNBC saw a 30 percent rise in total viewers from the first quarter of 2017 in prime time, while CNN lost 17 percent and Fox News 13 percent.

The first quarter ratings news comes on the heels of a late February report regarding advertising revenue on cable news, which grew 25 percent year-over-year.

Data from the Standard Media Index, which tracks 70 percent of national advertising spending "fresh from the invoicing source," according to its website, shows that MSNBC grew its revenue from January 2017 to last month by a whopping 62 percent.

CNN saw a jump of 32 percent year-over-year, while Fox News had a 17 percent increase, Adweek reported.

Fox, the most-watched channel on basic cable in 2017, charges the most per 30-second spot at $13,600 for weekday prime time programs.