With the coronavirus pandemic dominating last week’s coverage, prime-time viewership for Fox News Channel was up 11.6% from the previous week, while MSNBC’s viewership was up 12.3%.
Fox News Channel averaged 3.544 million viewers between March 9 and Sunday to be the most-watched cable network for the eighth consecutive week, according to live-plus-same-day figures released Tuesday by Nielsen.
Fox News Channel averaged 3.175 million viewers from March 2-8, which included coverage of the Super Tuesday presidential primaries.
MSNBC was third among cable networks after three consecutive second-place finishes, averaging 2.302 million viewers, a week after averaging 2.049 million.
CNN was second for the week, thanks to its coverage of Sunday’s Democratic presidential debate, averaging 2.845 million viewers, a week after averaging 1.325 million, third among cable networks.
The debate between former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the first one-on-one debate of the 2020 campaign, averaged 9.899 million viewers, first among the week’s cable programs and third overall.
Viewership was up 33.7% from the last debate whose only English-language coverage was on cable, the six-candidate debate Jan. 14 on CNN that averaged 7.404 million viewers.
Another 846,000 watched Sunday’s debate on the Spanish-language network Univision.
Fox News Channel swept the second through sixth spots among the week’s prime-time cable programs, topped by its coverage of President Donald Trump’s speech to the nation last Wednesday, which averaged 6.442 million viewers, 16th overall.
Each of the three network nightly newscasts registered gains from the previous week.
Viewership for ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” increased 9.26% to 9.923 million from 9.082 million the previous week. It was the most-watched network nightly newscast for the 15th consecutive week, 66th time in 67 weeks and 118th time in 120 weeks, averaging 9.082 million viewers.
“NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” was up 5.19% to 8.463 million from 8.045 million. The “CBS Evening News” was up 4% to 6.074 million from 5.843 million.
A 1-2 finish by “NCIS” and “60 Minutes” helped CBS to its fifth consecutive weekly victory and 10th in the 25-week-old 2019-20 season, averaging 6.17 million viewers.
ABC was second for the second consecutive week after back-to-back third-place finishes, averaging 4.37 million viewers. NBC was third, averaging 3.71 million viewers.
Fox averaged 3.02 million viewers for its 15 hours, 12 minutes of programming, its sixth consecutive fourth-place finish among the broadcast networks following its Super Bowl LIV telecast.
CBS, ABC and NBC each aired 22 hours of prime-time programming.
“NCIS” averaged 10.757 million viewers for its first original episode since Feb. 18. “60 Minutes” averaged 10.443 million viewers to finish second, the third consecutive week it had finished first or second.
CBS also had the week’s most-watched comedy, “Young Sheldon,” fourth overall, averaging 8.888 million viewers.
NBC had the week’s top alternative series, “The Voice,” fifth for the week averaging 8.735 million viewers, one spot ahead of the season finale of “The Bachelor” on ABC, which averaged 8.553 million viewers.
“The Masked Singer” was Fox’s most-watched program for the fifth time in the six weeks since its Super Bowl telecast, averaging 7.249 million viewers, 11th overall.
For the second consecutive week, an episode of the Univision telenovela “Amor eterno,” was the most-watched Spanish-language program. The Monday episode averaged 1.878 million viewers, 77th among broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.
Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network for the 15th consecutive week and 17th time in 18 weeks, averaging 1.36 million viewers.
Telemundo averaged 1.09 million viewers to finish second, followed by UniMas, which averaged 630,000, Estrella TV, which averaged 170,000 viewers, and Azteca America, which averaged 60,000.
The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were CBS’ “60 Minutes” and “NCIS”; CNN’s Democratic presidential debate; CBS’ “Young Sheldon”; NBC’s “The Voice”; ABC’s March 10 season finale of “The Bachelor”; CBS’ “FBI” and “Blue Bloods”; the March 9 episode of “The Bachelor” and ABC’s “American Idol.”