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News programs, game shows see spike in viewers amid pandemic

News programs, game shows see spike in viewers amid pandemic
© Greg Nash

News programs and daytime game shows are seeing a surge in viewers as millions of Americans are under stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

CNN, Fox News and MSNBC all had viewership spikes in the week ending March 29, according to new figures from Nielsen Media Research.

Fox News led the pack with an average of 4.25 million prime-time viewers, followed by MSNBC with 2.35 million and CNN with 2.16 million.

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Fox News was up 38 percent when compared to the same quarter last year, while MSNBC was up 1 percent in total viewers.

Fox News also had its largest quarterly audience on record for the 24-hour programming period that starts at 6 a.m.

Overall, Fox News and MSNBC finished as the most-watched and second most-watched channels in all of basic cable, respectively.

On the broadcast front, “World News Tonight” with David Muir was the most watched of the evening newscasts, averaging 11.9 million viewers last week.

NBC's “Nightly News” with Lester Holt had 11 million viewers and the “CBS Evening News” with Norah O'Donnell registered an average of 7.4 million.

The White House daily coronavirus task force briefings have also attracted large audiences, averaging 8.5 million viewers across all networks, a figure the president has touted.

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The briefings, however, have drawn criticism from people like former Obama speechwriter and "Pod Save America" host Jon Favreau, along with media figures like MSNBC's Chris Hayes and CNN's Don LemonDon Carlton LemonFor myopic media, breaking up with Trump will be hard to do Don Lemon to ex-CNN colleague McEnany: 'Girl, bye' CNN's Don Lemon says Newsmax will 'never be as powerful as Fox News' MORE, who have called for networks to stop airing the press conferences, arguing they represent a "free campaign commercial every day" that put "lives at risk" because of Trump's comments.

The president contends that such calls are coming from people who want to hurt him politically. Trump's approval rating has ticked up during the crisis.

The ratings boost has extended to daytime game shows as well.

“Let's Make a Deal” and "The Price is Right" on CBS have both seen their viewership numbers soar this past week.

"Let's Make a Deal," hosted by Wayne Brady, had the most viewers since its reboot 11 years ago, according to Nielsen.

"The Price is Right" and host Drew Carey also are seeing more people tune in, with Nielsen reporting the popular game show that first aired in 1956 scoring its highest audience numbers in four years.

Game shows are often taped weeks or even months in advance, so many of the episodes airing are still new to viewers even as the taping of new shows has been postponed.