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U.S. cable news networks: coronavirus viewership impact 2019-2020

In the week running from March 9 to 15, 2020, Fox News averaged 3.54 million viewers in primetime, and CNN outperformed MSNBC with its primetime audience of 2.85 million. Comparing these figures to the corresponding week of the previous year, primetime viewership is noticeably higher among all three of the major cable news networks. Cable news network viewership varies monthly, though Fox News generally comes out on top, but the TV industry as a whole will be keeping a close eye on developments and ratings in spring 2020 in light of the coronavirus outbreak. The pandemic which is driving people indoors as they self-isolate, contrary to normal spring behaviour which tends to send viewers outdoors and away from their television sets.

Important to note here is that on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization announced that the coronavirus was a global pandemic, right in the middle of the week in March 2020 presented in the graph. In that week, Fox News averaged over one million more primetime viewers than in the corresponding period in 2019, and CNN's primetime audience was around three times higher.

Coronavirus impact: increase in year-on-year viewership of leading cable news networks in the United States between March 2019 and March 2020, by number of primetime viewers

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Release date

March 2020


United States

Survey time period

March 11 to 17, 2019 and March 9 to 15, 2020

Age group

2 years and older

Special properties

excluding breaking news & specials

Supplementary notes

*In the middle of this period on March 11, 2020, the WHO (World Health Organization) declared the coronavirus to be a global pandemic.
Figures have been rounded.

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Statistics on "Coronavirus: impact on media consumption in the U.S."

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