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Mary Trump interview propels MSNBC to its highest ratings

Mary Trump's headshot.
MSNBC saw its highest ratings ever with “The Rachel Maddow Show” thanks to an interview with Mary Trump.
(Peter Serling)

The Thursday episode of “The Rachel Maddow Show” drew the largest audience for a regularly scheduled program in the history of MSNBC, which began broadcasting in 1996.

The hourlong interview of Mary Trump, the niece of President Trump who wrote a book critical of him, averaged 5.239 million viewers. The only other prime-time television programs to average more than 5 million viewers between July 13 and Sunday were NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” which averaged 7.632 million viewers, and a rerun of the CBS action drama “NCIS,” which averaged 5.036 million, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen on Tuesday.

It was the first time an original “America’s Got Talent” episode had averaged under 8 million viewers among its seven episodes this summer. An “America’s Got Talent” episode has been the week’s highest-rated entertainment program every week an original episode has aired since its 2016 season premiere.

The premiere of the ABC comedy “United We Fall” was seventh for the week, averaging 4.235 million, the most among programs airing on July 15. The week’s only ABC program to average more was a rerun of “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” sixth for the week, averaging 4.259 million.

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CBS had three of the week’s top five programs to finish first in the network race for the second consecutive week, 20th time in 25 weeks and 25th in the 43-week-old 2019-20 season, averaging 3.19 million viewers.

NBC was second, averaging 2.98 million, followed by Fox News Channel, which averaged 2.938 million and ABC, which averaged 2.83 million.

Fox was ninth overall for the second consecutive week, trailing four cable networks and the Spanish-language broadcaster Univision, averaging 1.25 million viewers for its 15 hours of prime-time programming.

Fox’s top-rated program for the second consecutive week was a rerun of the procedural drama “9-1-1: Lone Star,” 50th among broadcast programs, averaging 2.282 million viewers. Its overall rank was not available.

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CBS, NBC, Fox News Channel and ABC each aired 22 hours of prime-time programming.

With less first-run programming because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the combined four-network viewership was down 8.5% from the corresponding week one year ago. Fox viewership was down 29%, NBC’s 13.2% and ABC’s 12.7% while CBS’ was up 10.4 %.

Fox News Channel was the most popular cable network for the 26th consecutive week, averaging 2.983 million viewers, despite Tucker Carlson hosting his show just once because of what he described as a preplanned vacation. The week’s only episode of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” he hosted averaged 4.003 million viewers, second among cable programs and 10th overall.

MSNBC was second among cable networks for the sixth consecutive week, averaging 2.034 million viewers. CNN was third for the sixth consecutive week, averaging 1.587 million and HGTV fourth, averaging 1.288 million.


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