MSNBC tops Fox News as most-watched cable network on primetime weekdays


While President Trump slams CNN as "fake news" on a regular basis, its historically progressive rival MSNBC has made remarkable strides among viewership. MSNBC has now beaten CNN among total primetime viewers for 29 of the last 30 weeks dating back to the start of 2017.

CNN topped MSNBC among primetime total viewers from both July 2015 and July 2016 to date, but trails in 2017. Year to-date, MSNBC is the fastest growing cable network in total viewers, adding 865,000 sets of eyeballs while CNN has lost 128,000 viewers over the same time period, according to Nielsen's weekday primetime data. MSNBC's total viewership is up 78 percent compared to this time in 2016, which was an extremely newsworthy period that included the GOP convention and the Hillary Clinton email drama. (On the flip side, CNN brought in stellar ratings in July 2016, dominating MSNBC among convention coverage).

MSNBC's primetime lineup is a major reason for the growth, as their lineup of Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell hold Trump accountable on a nightly basis. While CNN isn't exactly pro-Trump during primetime, Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon typically rely on interviews and guests, as opposed the MSNBC hosts who have been attracting viewers by opening shows with powerful left-leaning political monologues.

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MSNBC - ELECTION COVERAGE -- Election Night 2016 -- Pictured: Rachel Maddow, Host, 'The Rachel Maddow Show' on Tuesday, November 8, 2016 from New York -- (Photo by: Heidi Gutman/MSNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE WITH ANDY COHEN -- Pictured: Rachel Maddow -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE WITH ANDY COHEN -- Pictured (l-r): Rachel Maddow and Chris Hardwick -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0639 -- Pictured: (l-r) MSNBC television host Rachel Maddow during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon on March 15, 2017 -- (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
MSNBC - ELECTION COVERAGE -- Election Night 2016 -- Pictured: Rachel Maddow, Host, 'The Rachel Maddow Show' on Tuesday, November 8, 2016 from New York -- (Photo by: Heidi Gutman/MSNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) -- Moderator Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow, Anchor, MSNBC's 'The Rachel Maddow Show' appear on 'Meet the Press' in Philadelphia, PA on Sunday July 24, 2016. (Photo by: Bill McCay/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) -- Rachel Maddow, Anchor, MSNBC's 'The Rachel Maddow Show', Michael Steele, Former RNC Chair; NBC News Political Analyst appear on 'Meet the Press' in Philadelphia, PA on Sunday July 24, 2016. (Photo by: Bill McCay/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 29: TV personality Rachel Maddow visits the SiriusXM Studios on April 29, 2016 in New York, New York. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0429 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actress Tina Fey, host Jimmy Fallon, and television personality Rachel Maddow play 'Know It All' on March 2, 2016 -- (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
MSNBC - ELECTION COVERAGE -- MSNBC Democratic Candidates Debate -- Pictured: (l-r) Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd appear during the 'MSNBC Democratic Candidates Debate' on Thursday, February 4, 2016 at the University of New Hampshire at Durham in Durham, NH -- (Photo by: Scott Eisen/MSNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 30: Host of �The Rachel Maddow Show� MSNBC Rachel Maddow speaks onstage at the Road to the 2016 Election: A Campaign Preview panel presented by NBCUniversal during Advertising Week 2015 AWXII at the Times Center Stage on September 30, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images for AWXII)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 30: (L-R) NBC News Political Director and Moderator of Meet the Press NBC News Chuck Todd, Anchor of NBC Nightly News and Dateline Lester Holt, Co-Anchor of �Today� and NBC News Chief Legal Correspondent NBC News Savannah Guthrie, and Host of �The Rachel Maddow Show� MSNBC Rachel Maddow pose at the Road to the 2016 Election: A Campaign Preview panel presented by NBCUniversal during Advertising Week 2015 AWXII at the Times Center Stage on September 30, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images for AWXII)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured (l-r): Andy Cohen, Nicole Richie and Rachel Maddow -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 0012 -- Pictured: (l-r) Television host Rachel Maddow during an interview with host Seth Meyers on March 11, 2014 -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured (l-r): Rachel Maddow and Michael Strahan -- Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) ? Rachel Maddow, Host, MSNBC?s ?The Rachel Maddow Show,? left, and Ralph Reed, Chairman, Faith and Freedom Coalition, right, appear on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday, June 30, 2013. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured (l-r): Rachel Maddow and Lil Jon -- Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 14: Political commentator and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow attends the 2013 Philadelphia Book Festival at Irvine Auditorium on April 14, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 03: TV personality Rachel Maddow enters the 'Late Show With David Letterman' taping at the Ed Sullivan Theater on April 3, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/FilmMagic)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 4421 -- Pictured: (l-r) Rachel Maddow during an interview with host Jay Leno on March 11, 2013 -- (Photo by: Margaret Norton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Rachel Maddow appears on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 11: Political commentator Rachel Maddow signs copies of her new book 'Drift' at Barnes & Noble bookstore at The Grove on April 11, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee Gifford and Rachel Maddow appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Matt Lauer and Rachel Maddow appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire
MSNBC Live -- Decision 2010 -- Pictured: Rachel Maddow, host ��The Rachel Maddow Show�� during 'Decision 2010' on November 2, 2010 (Photo by Virginia Sherwood/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW -- Pictured: (l-r) -- MSNBC's Rachel Maddow anchors live from Will McDonogh Memorial Park in New Orleans on August 26, 2010 to address the progress and struggles of the city, five years after Hurricane Katrina (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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The Hill media reporter and columnist Joe Concha told TheWrap he believes that "MSNBC is simply more transparent" about what they are in terms of its progressive tilt, and audiences respect that. He said having true opinion hosts during primetime "allows them to be more provocative" than CNN. In addition, the president isn't doing CNN any favors.

"Trump's attacks on CNN impact it in the sense that no Trump supporter will watch the network now based on preconceived notions alone," Concha said. "So, if liberals are watching MSNBC and conservatives and populists watch Fox News, there ain't much leftover for CNN."

As a result, MSNBC trails only Fox News in primetime total viewers among all of cable for the year, beating powerhouse networks such as TNT, AMC, ESPN, HGTV and USA. MSNBC is now on target to average 2 million viewers in primetime for the fifth consecutive month in July, while CNN has never had a streak that long in its history.

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Megan Kelly

(Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images) MEGYN KELLY

Gretchen Carlson

(Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Variety)

Greta van Susteren

(Photo by: William B. Plowman/MSNBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)

Andrea Tantaros

(Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

Laurie Dhue

(Photo by D Dipasupil/WireImage)

Elisabeth Hasselbeck 

(Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)

Alisyn Camerota 

(Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)

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Historian Andrew Tyndall, who monitors all-things television news for his website Tyndall Report, thinks that MSNBC is picking up viewers who are giving up broadcast nightly newscasts in favor of more fiery opinions found on cable.

"The most important ratings trend this year has been the overall increase in the total cable news audience for all three channels combined. Simultaneously, there has been a reduction for the broadcast networks' nightly newscasts, so the total TV news audience may be stable overall, with a switch in preference from broadcast to cable," Tyndall told TheWrap.

Tyndall continued: "This makes sense in the highly charged political atmosphere of the first six months of the Trump Administration, since cable news tends to be more politically oriented, whereas broadcast news is more general in scope."

But MSNBC is thriving beyond primetime, posting its most-watched month ever during weekdays from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. ET in June. MSNBC is on pace to beat CNN in July in the dayside category for the first monthly win since October 2012.

"Everyone is feeling good about dayside. Our team is working really hard and we have the full support of NBC News. You can see that in our reporting and we're glad our viewers see it too. We're excited to have the best month ever in nearly 5 years," an MSNBC insider told TheWrap.

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NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 17: Talk Show Host Bill O'Reilly is seen on October 17, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Patricia Schlein/Star Max/GC Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0263 -- Pictured: (l-r) Bill O'Reilly and host Jimmy Fallon on May 14, 2015 -- (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 23: Author Bill O'Reilly attends the 'Killing Jesus' World Premiere at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on March 23, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Mack/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 23: (L-R) The cast of Nat Geo's 'Killing Jesus' Haaz Sleiman, Eoin Macken, Stephanie Leonidas, Alexis Rodney, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Joe Doyle, Chris Ryman and Kelsey Grammer pose with 'Killing Jesus' book author, Bill O'Reilly (C) at the red carpet event and world premiere of National Geographic Channel's 'Killing Jesus' at Alice Tully Hall on March 23, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for National Geographic Channel)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 23: 'Killing Jesus' book author, Bill O'Reilly attends the red carpet event and world premiere of National Geographic Channel's 'Killing Jesus' at Alice Tully Hall on March 23, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)
TODAY -- Pictured: Bill O'Reilly appears on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 0142-- Pictured: (l-r) Bill O'Reilly during an interview with host Seth Meyers on December 17, 2014 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 13: Bill O'Reilly (R) interviews Katie Couric during her visit to 'The O'Reilly Factor' at FOX Studios on May 13, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 09: Rob Lowe talks to host Bill O'Reilly at Fox News' 'The O'Reilly Factor' at Fox News Studios on April 9, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: Bill O'Reilly attends the National Geographic Channel's 'Killing Kennedy' World Premiere at The Newseum on October 28, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 16: TV personality Bill O'Reilly enters the 'Late Show With David Letterman' taping at the Ed Sullivan Theater on October 16, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 14: Television host Bill O'Reilly is seen exiting'Good Morning America' studios on May 14, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/FilmMagic)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 27: Bill O'Reilly, host of FOX News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, waits for the arrival of U.S. President Barack Obama during an event about Obama's 'My Brother's Keeper' initiative in the East Room at the White House February 27, 2014 in Washington, DC. As part of his 'Year of Action,' Obama announced a $200 million commitment from nine foundations to bolster the education and employment of young men and boys of color. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0170 -- Pictured: Author Bill O'Reilly on November 25, 2014 -- (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 18: TV Personality Bill O'Reilly attends An Evening with Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera at 92nd Street Y on June 18, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Mark Sagliocco/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 04: Donald Trump and Bill O'Reilly attend the game between the New York Knicks and the Cleveland Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden on November 30, 2014 in New York City.NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 18: (L-R) TV Personalites Geraldo Rivera and Bill O'Reilly attend An Evening with Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera at 92nd Street Y on June 18, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Mark Sagliocco/FilmMagic)
TODAY -- Pictured: Bill O'Reilly appears on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 16: Bill O'Reilly attends the 11th annual Giants of Broadcasting Honors at Gotham Hall on October 16, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)
THE VIEW - (10.1.13) Today's guest co-host is Jason Biggs ('Orange is the New Black.') Guests include Bill OReilly (author, Killing Jesus); Matt Long and Lorraine Bruce (ABC's 'Lucky 7') on ABC's 'The View.' 'The View' airs Monday-Friday (11:00 am-12:00 pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Fred Lee/ABC via Getty Images) BARBARA WALTERS, BILL O'REILLY
Regis Philbin talks with Bill O'Reilly, of the O'Reilly Report, during the Court TV celebration of it's 10th anniversary at American Park inside Battery Park in New York City on July 18, 2001. photo by Gabe Palacio/ImageDirect
Bill O'Reilly attends the benefit for Homeless Children on November 16, 1989 at Letizia Restaurant in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 4420 -- Pictured: (l-r) Bill O'Reilly during an interview with host Jay Leno on March 1, 2013 -- (Photo by: Margaret Norton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee Gifford and Bill O'Reilly appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
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Back in the fall of 2015, MSNBC chairman Andy Lack made major changes to the network's daytime programming. Political programs such as "The Rundown with Jose Diaz-Balart" and "NewsNation with Tamron Hall" were replaced with "MSNBC Live," which is essentially a newscast. Lack's decision to focus on breaking news during business hours has paid off, and MSNBC has now topped CNN for 21-straight weeks among total day viewers.

All the major cable news networks have shown daytime growth in 2017, thanks to Trump, Sean Spicer and a variety of breaking news, but MSNBC has easily picked up the most viewers. CNN and Fox News are both up 27 percent from the same point in 2016, but MSNBC has grown a whopping 64 percent.

As much as MSNBC's talent disagrees with the president, he has certainly helped the network attract viewers.

Read original story MSNBC Tops Fox News as Most-Watched Cable Network on Primetime Weekdays At TheWrap


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