NEW YORK — Fox News Channel has found itself somewhere it has rarely been the past decade — out of first place.
The network’s weekday prime-time lineup, long the king of cable news, finished behind MSNBC in viewers last week, the Nielsen company said. Among the 25-to-54-year-old audience that advertisers pay a premium for, Fox finished third to MSNBC and CNN for the first time in 17 years.
It was uniquely bad timing for Fox, a week filled with late-breaking news unflattering to President Donald Trump, who much of the network’s audience supports. But it also comes shortly after the firing of star anchor Bill O’Reilly, as Fox is trying to establish a new prime-time lineup.
Led by the red-hot Rachel Maddow show, MSNBC averaged 2.44 million viewers last week to Fox’s 2.41 million, Nielsen said. CNN had 1.65 million. It was only the second time in MSNBC’s history that it beat both of its news rivals in a week; the only other time was during the 2012 Democratic national convention.
Among the youthful viewers, MSNBC had 611,000 last week, CNN had 589,000 and Fox had 497,000.
When the weekend is added in — and the more flattering coverage of Trump’s first foreign trip — Fox moves back into first. And on this Monday, with the breaking news coverage of an attack at an Ariana Grande concert in England, Fox essentially doubled its rivals in viewership, with 3.37 million to CNN’s 1.74 million and MSNBC’s 1.65 million.
With the broadcast networks last week, “Dancing With the Stars” and the “Billboard Music Awards” helped ABC to a strong showing, second behind CBS and winning the 18-to-49-year-old demographic.
CBS averaged 6 million viewers in prime time, ABC had 5.1 million, NBC had 4.9 million, Fox had 2.6 million, Univision had 1.5 million, the CW had 1.3 million, ION Television had 1.2 million and Telemundo had 890,000.
The NBA playoffs made TNT the week’s most popular cable network. It averaged 3.45 million viewers in prime time to Fox News Channel’s 2.17 million, MSNBC’s 1.79 million, ESPN’s 1.69 million and USA’s 1.45 million.
ABC’s “World News Tonight” won the evening new ratings race, averaging 7.5 million viewers. NBC’s “Nightly News” had 7.4 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 6.1 million.
For the week of May 15-21, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: “NCIS,” CBS, 13.19 million; “Bull,” CBS, 10.85 million; “Dancing With the Stars,” ABC, 10.07 million; “The Voice” (Monday), NBC, 9.112 million; “NCIS: New Orleans,” CBS, 9.11 million; “Billboard Music Awards,” ABC, 8.7 million; “The Voice” (Tuesday), NBC, 8.6 million; “Survivor,” CBS, 8.28 million; “60 Minutes,” CBS, 8.25 million; “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC, 7.92 million.
ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.