Newscasts viewership soars following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

David Muir sitting at the ABC News anchor desk.
David Muir on ABC’s “World News tonight with David Muir,” the most-watched nightly newscast for the 116th time in 117 weeks.
(Heidi Gutman /ABC News)

Prime-time viewership for the three major cable news networks rose 49.9% from the previous week and 4.1% for the three broadcast network nightly newscasts following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Fox News Channel was the most-watched cable network for the sixth consecutive week, averaging 3.173 million viewers between Feb. 21 and Sunday, 31% higher than its 2.423 million average the previous week, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen Tuesday.

CNN rose 14 spots to second, averaging 1.496 million viewers, 161% more than its 573,000 average the previous week. MSNBC was third for the eighth consecutive week, averaging 1.39 million viewers, 32.7% more than its 1.047 million average the previous week.


Fox News Channel programming accounted for the top 17 prime-time cable programs and 19 of the top 20, led by the Thursday edition of the political talk show “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” which averaged 4.692 million viewers, 23rd overall.

The only non-Fox News Channel program in the top 20 was the 9 p.m. Thursday edition of the MSNBC news and opinion program “The Rachel Maddow Show,” which averaged 2.544 million viewers, 18th among prime-time cable programs.

The cable top 20 consisted of 14 Fox News Channel weeknight political talk shows — five broadcasts of both “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and “Hannity” and four of “The Ingraham Angle”; both hourlong editions of Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Night in America with Trey Gowdy” and “The Next Revolution” which followed; the Saturday night Fox News Channel political talk shows, “Unfiltered with Dan Bongino” and “One Nation with Brian Kilmeade”; and the 9 p.m. Thursday edition of the MSNBC news and opinion program “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” was the most-watched nightly newscast for the 116th time in 117 weeks and 168th time in 170 weeks, averaging 8.975 million viewers, 2.8% more than the 8.728 million average the previous week.

“NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” was second, averaging 7.561 million, 8.1% more than its 6.995 million averaged the previous week when it aired outside of its usual time slot in the Pacific and Mountain time zones because of NBC’s Olympics coverage.

The “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell” averaged 5.337 million viewers, 1% higher its 5.284 million average the previous week.


In the first week of the 23-week-old 2021-22 television season without a prime-time NFL or Olympics telecast, the CBS News magazine “60 Minutes” was the top-ranked prime-time program and the only one to average more than 8 million viewers, averaging 8.357 million, its largest audience since Jan. 16.

The CBS crime drama “FBI” was the highest rated entertainment program, averaging 7.332 million viewers, second for the week. CBS’ “Young Sheldon” was the most popular comedy for the 21st consecutive week, averaging 6.949 million viewers.

The CBS police drama “Blue Bloods” won the 10 p.m. time slot for the 11th time, averaging 6.25 million viewers, eighth overall. The CBS crime drama “FBI: International” was the top-ranked first-season program for the eighth time, averaging 6.127 million viewers, ninth overall.

The NBC thriller “The Endgame” had the bigger audience of the week’s two premieres on the five major broadcast networks, finishing first in its 10 p.m. time slot Feb. 21 and 44th overall, averaging 3.301 million viewers.

“The Endgame” retained 73.6% of the audience on the two-hour episode of “America’s Got Talent: Extreme” that preceded it and averaged 4.485 million viewers, 26th for the week.

The other premiere, The CW college drama “All American: Homecoming,” was 207th among broadcast programs, averaging 473,000.


The season premiere of the NBC procedural drama “Law and Order,” The first original episode since May 24, 2010, finished 12th for the week, averaging 5.798 million viewers.

CBS had each of the top three programs and four of the top five to finish first for the eighth time in the season, averaging 4.47 million viewers. ABC was second, averaging 3.48 million, and NBC, third, averaging 3.43 million. All three networks broadcast 22 hours of prime-time programming.

Fox averaged 2.02 million viewers for its 15 hours of programming and The CW 460,000 for its 14 hours.

“Chicago Med” was NBC’s ratings leader, fourth for the week, averaging 6.949 million viewers. The season premiere of “American Idol” led ABC’s ratings, seventh for the week averaging 6.296 million viewers.

The procedural drama, “9-1-1: Lone Star” was Fox’s top-rated program, 15th for the week averaging 5.125 million viewers.

The superhero series “Superman & Lois,” was The CW’s biggest draw for the fourth time among its five original episodes this season, averaging 791,000 viewers, 154th among broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.


The top 20 prime-time programs consisted of “60 Minutes” and nine CBS entertainment programs; five NBC entertainment programs and a 16-minute NBC News special report on the start of Russia’s attack on Ukraine; three ABC alternative programs “American Idol,” “Jeopardy! National College Championship” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos”; and Fox’s ”9-1-1: Lone Star.”

Netflix’s most popular television program for the third consecutive week was the nine-episode limited series “Inventing Anna,” with viewers spending 130.8 million hours watching its second full week of release, 33.3% less than the 195.97 million hours watched the previous week.

“A Madea Homecoming” was the most-streamed English-language movie on Netflix with viewers spending 31.56 hours watching the first new film in the Madea franchise since 2019 in its first three days of release, according to figures released by the streaming service.

“The Tinder Swindler” dropped to second after three consecutive first-place finishes with 17.67 million hours watched of the true crime documentary in its third full week of release, 48.7% less than the 34.45 million hours the previous week.