President Trump may irritate many network and cable broadcasters for a variety of reasons. But he is good for their ratings, as well as their revenue.
Though the Fox News Channel continues to dominate both the basic cable realm as well as its news channel rivals, MSNBC has enjoyed a huge audience bump in the Trump era. Much of the credit goes to primetime host Rachel Maddow, who currently pulls in 629,000 viewers in the much coveted 25-54-year old demographic according to new Nielsen Media Research numbers — besting such rivals as CNN’s Anderson Cooper with 311,000 viewers and Fox News’ The Five, with 338,000.
Consider that in the primetime hours of June, 2015, MSNBC typically attracted 136,000 viewers, and CNN 204,000 according to Nielsen data.
Ms. Maddow’s recent victory in this specific airtime and demographic brought gushing headlines, however. Forbes magazine recently called Ms. Maddow “the most powerful person in cable news” while the New York Times said she was leading the MSNBC ratings “surge” — primarily through her non-stop coverage of matters which have scandalous potential, including possible White House ties to Russia, and Mr. Trump’s elusive tax returns or business ties.
What kind of Trump coverage are we talking about here? Some news stories from MSNBC in the last 24 hours include these representative headlines:
“Remember when Trump vowed, ‘We’re not going into Syria’?”; “New polling shows Trump’s support slipping among Republicans”; “Trump under the mistaken impression that the economy will save him”; “Republicans aren’t exactly clamoring to work for Donald Trump”; “Former Watergate prosecutor: Of course Trump’s under investigation.”
Will the surge last? Some analysts say that it’s all in the timing and the subject matter; viewers have a taste for Trump-bashing now, and Ms. Maddow’s carefully calibrated style can deliver the goods. Whether viewers tune in to MSNBC for hard news as well as liberal commentary remains to be seen.
In the larger picture, though, Fox News has remained the most watched cable news network for the over 15 years according to Nielsen. For the last 24 weeks, is also remained the top network across the entire cable, drawing larger audiences than ESPN, HGTV and other non-news rivals.
In addition, the network’s programs made up eight of the top 10 telecasts in total viewers, including presentations of America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier, Tucker Carlson Tonight and The Five.
The basic Nielsen numbers for the week: Fox drew 2.4 million in primetime, MSNBC 1.9 million and CNN 1 million. During the entire day, Fox averaged 1.5 million, MSNBC 1 million and CNN 831,000.
Meanwhile, Mr. Trump has also been good for the network news business as well.
An extensive new analysis from the Pew Research Center using industry data reveals that advertising revenue for the ABC, CBS and NBC evening news programs which aired Monday through Friday were up by 12 percent the first three quarters of 2016 compared with the same three quarters in 2015, this according to estimates from Kantar Media.
The tally for these three quarters topped $420 million, the analysis found. The three networks also experienced financial growth for their morning news programs in the same period were up by three percent, reaching a very tidy $836 million.
In total, then, from January-September 2016 — prime election months — the “Big Three” networks made almost $1.3 billion on weekday morning and evening news shows alone The figure does not include weekend news or Sunday talk shows.