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Rachel Maddow on NBC's 'Tonight Show' on March 15, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for NBC)

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow had the most-watched show in cable news in August, ending the month with 2.783 million total viewers, according to data released by Nielsen Media Research. It was Maddow's second month in a row as No. 1.

Maddow narrowly beat Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity, who had 2.679 million total viewers. The remaining shows in the top five for the month were Fox News' Tucker Carlson (2.483 million), MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell (2.352 million) and Fox News' The Five (2.351 million). Maddow was also first among adults 25-54, the critical demographic to advertisers.

While Maddow and O'Donnell were among the best performers in prime time, MSNBC still trailed Fox News Channel. FNC averaged 2.2 million viewers in prime time, putting Fox in first place among all cable networks in prime for the month. The networks dissect the ratings data in myriad ways, but Fox has plenty to tout, including a 14-month streak as the top-rated cable network based on total day ratings and 188 straight months at No. 1 in cable news (total day and prime).


Among slightly younger viewers, adults 18-49, MSNBC was No. 1 in prime for the month.

In prime, MSNBC trailed Fox with 1.835 million total viewers, an increase of 63% from the same period a year ago. CNN had 1.194 million viewers (up 41%). In the key advertiser demo, the race for number one was tight, with FNC first in prime time (466,000), CNN took second place (418,000) and MSNBC was close behind at 410,000. All of the networks saw their audiences rise in the demo compared to a year ago, with MSNBC (up 55%) and CNN (up 54%) more than doubling Fox News' increase (up 25%).

The month was dominated by coverage of President Trump, who often mentions ratings as an indicator of how what he calls the "fake news" media is doing.


Mark Joyella is a journalist, writer and public speaker; you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook, and watch his vlog on YouTube.

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