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Fox News dominates cable news ratings for Trump arraignment

Former President Donald Trump makes an appearance in a New York state courtroom to be arraigned on felony criminal charges on Tuesday, April 4, 2023.
Former President Donald Trump makes an appearance in a New York state courtroom to be arraigned on felony criminal charges on Tuesday, April 4, 2023. (Photo by Andrew Kelly, the Associated Press/Pool image)

The Fox News Channel was the most-watched cable news network during the arraignment of former President Donald Trump in his New York state criminal case on Tuesday, according to figures released by Nielsen Media Research.

The data showed Fox News grabbed more than 2.25 million viewers during the day, to include coverage of Trump’s arraignment as well as other news matters, compared to MSNBC’s 1.157 million viewers and CNN’s 1.17 million viewers. The data is based on each channel’s average daily audience among viewers aged 2 and older.

In prime-time, Fox News led the pack with an average overall viewership of 4.4 million compared to MSNBC’s 2.67 million and CNN’s 1.75 million, the Nielsen data showed.

During the two-hour period in which Trump was arraigned in a Manhattan courtroom, Fox News saw its audience swell to 3.215 million viewers, according to Nielsen data reviewed by The Desk. CNN grabbed second place with 2.644 million viewers, while MSNBC placed third with 2.312 million.

CNN had higher viewership among the key demographic of viewers aged 25 to 54 years old, though, with 633,000 tuning in during the hours of 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time, Nielsen data showed. Fox News was in second place with 469,000 viewers in the key demographic, and MSNBC placed third with 348,000 viewers.

CNN held on to its dominance in the key demographic attractive to advertisers, with 513,000 tuning in from the 25-to-54 year old group between 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Fox News was second with 448,000 in the same demographic, and MSNBC was not too far behind with 432,000 viewers. During that time period, New York City District Attorney Alvin Bragg was speaking to reporters with information about the three dozen felony counts charged against Trump.

Things swung back in Fox News’ favor during the prime-time block of 8:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern Time, when Trump was addressing supporters from his Mar-a-Lago compound in Florida. The Fox News audience spiked to 6.711 million overall viewers and 1.134 million in the key demographic, according to Nielsen. MSNBC had 2.725 million overall viewers and 352,000 key demographic viewers; CNN pulled in 2.24 million overall viewers and 640,000 in the key demographic.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).