For the first time, MSNBC spent five consecutive weekdays as the most-watched cable network in prime time, bringing in more total viewers than its top news rivals, Fox News and CNN, and all other cable channels, according to Nielsen.
MSNBC has traditionally surpassed CNN in ratings but fallen behind Fox News’ dominating prime-time lineup that for years featured Bill O’Reilly at 8 p.m. Eastern time, followed by Megyn Kelly at 9 p.m., leading into Sean Hannity at 10 p.m.
But 2017 brought lots of changes to Fox News, with Kelly defecting to NBC News early in the year and the cable news network parting ways with Bill O’Reilly amid mounting allegations of sexual harassment and bad behavior.
Fox News took second place for the week, Nielsen reported, with MSNBC averaging 2.34 million viewers for July 17-21 and Fox News averaging 2.25 million.
While MSNBC has bested Fox News in weekday prime-time total viewers in the past ― once in May 2017 and previously in September 2012 ― last week was the first time the network was the No. 1 most-watched network during weekday prime time in all of cable television. Weekday prime time refers to shows airing from 8 to 11 p.m. Monday to Friday.
In individual time slots, Rachel Maddow continued her monthlong winning streak over Fox News and CNN during the 9 p.m. hour. But last week, Maddow’s show was the second most-watched program on all of cable, falling just behind WWE Entertainment.
It’s been a news-heavy summer as bombshells continue to drop about members of President Donald Trump’s campaign interacting with Kremlin-linked individuals before and after the election. The president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner, and his former campaign manager Paul Manafort will testify this week in closed-door congressional sessions investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.