CNN’s Trump Town Hall, NBA playoffs dominate cable ratings as CBS wins the week

Donald Trump, seated, is questioned by CNN's Kaitlan Collins in a televised town hall, with a big CNN logo on the floor
CNN aired a Republican Presidential Town Hall with former President Donald Trump and Kaitlan Collins.
(John Nowak)

CNN’s town hall with former President Donald Trump topped its cable news rivals in its time slot, trailing only NBA basketball playoffs in the ratings.

The town hall from 8-9:10 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time last Wednesday averaged 3.308 million viewers, 11th among prime-time cable programs airing between May 8 and Sunday, behind six NBA playoff games on TNT and four on ESPN, and 47th overall, according to live-plus-same-day figures released Tuesday by Nielsen.

Viewership was the second largest for a CNN single-candidate town hall since 2016, trailing the Sept. 17, 2020, town hall with President Biden, which averaged 3.465 million viewers.


Fox News Channel averaged 1.446 million during the town hall with “Fox News Tonight,” hosted by former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, and the first 10 minutes of “Hannity”; in the same time slot, MSNBC averaged 1.398 million with “All in With Chris Hayes” and the first 10 minutes of “Alex Wagner Tonight.”

The New York Knicks’ 112-103 victory over the Miami Heat averaged 4.388 million viewers from 7:30-10:08 p.m. EDT, opposite the town hall. The playoff game was 10th for the week among prime-time cable programs and 39th overall.

Digital viewing added 100,000 viewers to the town hall audience, giving it a total viewership of 3.408 million, according to CNN.

The town hall and “Anderson Cooper 360,” which averaged 2.152 million viewers, were the only CNN programs among the week’s top 20 prime-time cable programs and top 40, which also covers daytime and late night. By comparison, Fox News Channel had four programs among the top 20 and 16 among the top 40; MSNBC had one among the top 20 and two among the top 40.

The town hall was unable to lift CNN out of its customary third-place status among cable news channels for either the day or the week. It averaged 731,000 viewers throughout the day last Wednesday, compared to 1.319 million for Fox News Channel and 927,000 for MSNBC.

Fox News Channel was first in prime time among cable news networks for the 117th consecutive week and third among all cable networks for the third consecutive week, averaging 1.425 million viewers, 2.9% less than its 1.468-million average the previous week.


MSNBC was fourth among cable networks for the fourth consecutive week following third- and second-place finishes, averaging 1.127 million viewers, 2.4% less than its 1.155-million average the previous week.

NBA playoff coverage gave TNT the win in the cable network race for the fourth consecutive week, averaging 2.925 million viewers. ESPN was second for the third consecutive week, averaging 2.822 million.

ESPN’s coverage of the Lakers’ 122-101 series-clinching victory over the Golden State Warriors on Friday in a Western Conference semifinal series was the biggest audience for any program, averaging 8.64 million viewers, and the most for a conference semifinal game since 2011.

TNT’s coverage of Games 3 and 4 of the Lakers-Warriors series also drew more viewers than any prime-time broadcast program. Golden State’s 121-106 victory in Game 4 last Wednesday averaged 7.547 million viewers and the Lakers’ 104-101 victory in Game 3 on May 8 averaged 7.523 million viewers.

The cable prime-time top 20 consisted of 10 NBA playoff games — six on TNT and four on ESPN; CNN’s town hall with Trump and “Anderson Cooper 360,” which followed it; History’s “The Curse of Oak Island”; “The Rachel Maddow Show”; ESPN’s coverage of Game 6 of the second-round NHL playoff series between the Dallas Stars and Seattle Kraken; four editions of Fox News Channel’s “Hannity”; and History’s “The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch.”

CBS had each of the five top-rated broadcast programs to win the broadcast network battle for the ninth consecutive week, the 12th time in 13 weeks and 14th time in the last 16, averaging 4.6 million viewers.

“60 Minutes” topped the broadcast rankings, averaging 6.695 million viewers, fourth overall. The only times CBS has not finished first in the past 16 weeks were the weeks of Feb. 6-13, when Fox aired Super Bowl LVII, and March 6-12, when ABC aired the Oscars.


ABC was second for the fifth consecutive week following four consecutive third-place finishes, averaging 3.46 million viewers. Its ratings leader was “American Idol,” ninth for the week and sixth among nonsports programs, averaging 6.325 million viewers.

NBC was third among the broadcast networks for the fifth consecutive week after four consecutive second-place finishes, averaging 2.95 million viewers. “Chicago Fire” was its top-rated program for the second consecutive week, averaging 5.946 million viewers, 12th overall and eighth among nonsports programs.

Fox averaged 2.02 million viewers. The procedural drama “9-1-1” had its biggest audience, averaging 4.477 million viewers, 34th for the week and 27th among nonsports programming.

Each of the eight original episodes of “9-1-1” to air in 2023 has been Fox’s highest-ranked show for its week.

The CW averaged 310,000 viewers. The superhero drama “Superman & Lois” was its biggest draw for the seventh time in the eight weeks it has aired this season, averaging 552,000 viewers, tying for 156th among broadcast programs with the episodes of the 1960-68 CBS comedy “The Andy Griffith Show” that aired at 8:30 p.m. May 9 and last Wednesday on MeTV.

The top 20 prime-time programs consisted of five NBA playoff games — three on ESPN and two on TNT; seven CBS scripted programs and its newsmagazine “60 Minutes”; three episodes of “Jeopardy! Masters” and “American Idol” on ABC; two NBC scripted series and its singing competition “The Voice.”


The “Bridgerton” prequel “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story” was Netflix’s most-streamed title for the second consecutive week with 158.68 million hours watched of its six episodes in their first full week of release. Viewership was up 7% from the 148.28 million hours watched the previous week when the episodes were available for four days.

Netflix’s most popular movie was the Jennifer Lopez-starring action thriller “The Mother” with 83.71 million hours watched in its first three days of release.