After several months of swapping the top spot in cable news ratings, MSNBC has found itself dominating Fox News in the ratings game.
For the last two weeks, MSNBC has been the clear and away leader in the ratings with MSNBC host Rachel Maddow being the host with the highest ratings most often. The change is fairly recent and is a departure from just several weeks ago.
At the end of May, spurred by a string of unfavorable news stories about President Donald Trump, the left-leaning MSNBC surpassed CNN and Fox News in the key 25-54 demographic during primetime for the first time since September 2000, and Rachel Maddow appeared to have solidified her position as the top cable-news host in the wake of Bill O’Reilly’s departure from Fox News. Since then, Fox News has steadily recovered and is now dominating in the key demo, including against Maddow.
However, now, MSNBC and Maddow are the clear leaders in cable news.
Going back to the week of July 10-July 14, Maddow led each of Fox News' top three shows: "Tucker Carlson Tonight," "Hannity," and "The Five." In many cases, MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell was right on the heels of Carlson and Hannity, sometimes even surpassing one or either of them.
In fact, the only time a Fox host even competed with Maddow was the night that Sean Hannity had Donald Trump Jr. on his show. On that night, Hannity barely surpassed Maddow in total viewers, but the margin was very slim.
And in the coveted 25-54 demographic? That belongs to Maddow and MSNBC — and it's not even close.
Still, given Fox's strong overall programming, they were able to barely top MSNBC in overall ratings, but it too was much closer than Fox would like.
Coming into last week, July 17-July 20, MSNBC continued its domination. Again, overall, Fox was barely able to eclipse MSNBC given its very tough primetime lineup, but Maddow dominated in overall ratings and in the 25-54 demographic.
For example, on Monday, Maddow carried 2.6 million overall viewers, while her closest Fox competitor, Carlson, carried just 2.44 million. On Tuesday, Maddow carried 2.62 million while Hannity, her closest competitor, carried just 2.33 million.
On Wednesday, the gap widened even more. That day, Maddow carried nearly 3 million viewers — 2.97 million to be exact — while Fox's top three shows each never topped 2.4 million. On that day, even O'Donnell beat his Fox competitors, amassing more than 2.6 million viewers.
The domination continued on Thursday as Maddow topped more than 3 million viewers, albiet barely. Second, again, was her colleague O'Donnell with 2.7 million viewers while Fox was unable to top 2.3 million viewers.
MSNBC took to their public relations Twitter account on Friday to boast about the good ratings:
Congrats to @Maddow, @TheLastWord, @11thHour and @allinwithchris for making Top 10 among all of cable in total view… https://t.co/tRELftxvQY— MSNBC Public Relations (@MSNBC Public Relations)1500673180.0
It's not immediately clear what has led to MSNBC's sudden surge in ratings, though one thing is clear: CNN's ratings continue to take a toll and they overwhelmingly have the lowest ratings of the top three major cable news networks.