Whether there’s big news, or none at all, it seems the mighty warship that is Fox News sails on, and in April, Fox kept firm hold on first place in cable news. The network took first place–beating both CNN and MSNBC combined. Competitors will quickly point out that despite the overall dominance, Fox was off compared to a year ago, dropping more than 11 percent versus 2010 in terms of viewers 25-54. (The dip among total viewers was far more limited, just 3 percent).
CNN, even without the huge ratings lift it got in February and March from a succession of major international news stories, had the most growth of the three networks overall compared to 2010 (up 31 percent in primetime versus a year ago among viewers 25-54), but the dropoff in serious news hurt CNN harder than the other networks, sending it back to third place in primetime behind MSNBC for April (in terms of total viewers and viewers 25-54). MSNBC beat CNN by 36% in terms of viewers 25-54 and 48% among total viewers. CNN remains in second place in daytime and total day.
Several CNN shows saw growth in April, with John King, USA up 58 percent among viewers 25-54. Other shows with significant year-over-year gains included In the Arena (30 percent in the demo), Situation Room (44 percent in the demo), Anderson Cooper (35%) and Piers Morgan Tonight (20% compared to 2010, when Larry King held the timeslot).
At MSNBC, the network returned to second place with double-digit ratings growth in both total viewers and in the demo compared to 2010. Several shows made notable gains, including The Ed Show, which finished ahead of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 for the month. Lawrence O’Donnell’s Last Word, though, was down five percent among viewers 25-54 compared to 2010, when Keith Olbermann’s Countdown was in the timeslot.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow had her best margin over CNN’s Piers Morgan since the show’s launch, with a 66% edge in total viewers and a 65 percent margin among viewers 25-54. While Morgan has yet to knock Maddow from her perch, PMT has improved CNN’s performance in the hour. Overall since the show’s launch, the program is way up compared to a year ago–up 61 percent in the demo