How Cable Networks Are Doing With Donald Trump As President

bill o'reilly

2017 has been a year like no other, and beyond all the common sense reasons, one of the biggest involves billionaire and former reality star Donald Trump holding the highest seat in the land as President of the United States. While the newest POTUS hasn't had a startlingly measurable effect on television's scripted programming, the same definitely can't be said for unscripted fare. The late night talk show game has heated up majorly, but it looks like the biggest benefactors of the new administration are cable news networks, as some of them are experiencing record-high viewerships.

With the numbers in for 2017's first quarter, the biggest winner of all the big cable networks is Fox News, which isn't so much of a surprise, given it's a highly conservative network in a highly conservative President's run. Plus, it's one of the few places where Donald Trump feels comfortable showing up on a semi-regular basis without the worry of being verbally provoked. How well has Fox News been doing in 2017? Well, this Q1 brought in literally the biggest average viewership of any quarter in the network's 21-year history.

And that's not just in the primetime hours or for a random mid-afternoon slot; from 6:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m., Fox News racked up its biggest crowds ever. As far as total day averages went, the network had a surprisingly impressive 1.72 million viewers, which was up 28% compared to the scandal-heavy 2016 at the same time; those numbers were more than double what MSNBC and CNN earned. The close-to-key demographic of adults 25-54 years old was 362,000 strong, which was itself a 34% boost. As you might have imagined, Bill O'Reilly came out smelling sweeter than anyone else, as his O'Reilly Factor earned an average of nearly 4 million viewers for the quarter, which is the highest total-viewer average of any cable news program that has ever existed.

Not all the championable claims went to Fox News, though. MSNBC gets to brag about nailing the highest ratings upticks, at least as far as percentages go, if not raw viewers. As compared to 2016's first quarter, the NBC-run cabler jumped up 51% to an average of 756,000 viewers for Total Day, and its primetime-specific audience of 1.4 million viewers was up a whopping 58% from where the network was last year. And even though Fox News shows conquered the program-specific ratings breakdowns, The Rachel Maddow Show was the only non-Fox show to appear in the Top 10 for total viewers, as well as the Top 10 for demo ratings, according to Deadline.

Meanwhile, over at CNN, this quarter served as the best quarter for the network since 2003, both in terms of total viewers and for the 25-54 demographic. The network ready beat out MSNBC across almost every measure, minus the late hour when Rachel Maddow ruled the timeslot. But even as CNN was rocking it across the entire day, the network is the only one to suffer losses in viewership during the primetime hours. it'll be interesting to see how these numbers continue forward as Trump's presidency moves on.

When you're not getting down with news tickers and blowhard pundits, check out everything else heading to the primetime hours with our midseason premiere schedule and our summer TV guide.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.