TV ratings: Trump indictment shakes up cable news rankings, sends MSNBC to top

A smiling man in a dark suit and tie
Coverage of the indictment of former President Donald Trump boosted ratings for “The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell,” helping MSNBC to win the week.
(Art Streiber / MSNBC)

MSNBC ended Fox News Channel’s 120-week streak of first-place prime-time finishes among cable news networks, averaging 1.489 million, and finished first among all cable networks in the latest weekly ratings, largely in response to former President Trump’s indictment in connection with his handling of classified records.

Prime-time viewership for MSNBC, Fox News Channel and CNN was up a combined 29.5% between June 5 and Sunday, according to live-plus-same-day figures released Tuesday by Nielsen.

MSNBC’s viewership was up 53.5% from its 970,000 average the previous week, when it was third among cable networks. It had each of the week’s four most-watched prime-time cable programs, topped by the Thursday edition of political talk show “The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell,” which averaged 2.608 million viewers on the night Trump said on social media that he had been indicted.


Fox News Channel was second among all cable networks for the second consecutive week, averaging 1.484 million viewers, 10.9% more than its 1.338 million average the previous week

CNN was seventh among cable networks, seven spots higher than the previous week, averaging 672,000 viewers, a 32.5% increase from its 507,000 average the previous week.

ESPN was the only other cable network to average more than 1 million viewers, averaging 1.023 million.

The cable prime-time top 20 consisted of six MSNBC political talk shows — three editions of “The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell,” the Thursday editions of “Alex Wagner Tonight” and “All in With Chris Hayes” and the June 5 edition of “The Rachel Maddow Show”; two MSNBC special reports Friday on Trump’s indictment; five Fox News Channel political talk shows — three broadcasts of “Hannity” and the Thursday editions of “The Ingraham Angle” and “Fox News Tonight” hosted by Harris Faulkner; Bravo’s “Vanderpump Rules”; ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” game between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees and its coverage of Oklahoma’s 3-1 victory over Florida State Thursday to win its third consecutive Women’s College World Series championship; all three hourlong segments of the USA Network’s “WWE Raw”; and History’s “The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch.”

ABC’s coverage of Games 3 and 4 of the NBA Finals both drew smaller audiences than the corresponding games in 2022. The Denver Nuggets’ 109-94 victory over the Miami Heat last Wednesday averaged 11.237 million viewers, first for the week, but 2.5% less than the 11.523-million average for the Boston Celtics’ 116-100 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 of the 2022 Finals.

Denver’s 108-95 victory over Miami in Game 4 Friday averaged 10.416 million viewers, 13.7% less than the 12.063-million average for Golden State’s 107-97 victory in Game 4 of the 2022 Finals.


The 2023 Finals averaged 11.286 million viewers through four games, 3.7% less than the 11.725-million average for the first four games of the 2022 Finals.

For the second time in the two full weeks of television’s summer season, NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” was the top nonsports program, averaging 6.14 million viewers, third for the week.

CBS’ coverage of the Tony Awards was second among entertainment programming, third among nonsports programming and sixth overall, averaging 4.121 million viewers. Viewership was down 2.3% from the 4.217-million average for the 2022 ceremony.

The livestreaming Tony Awards audience on Paramount+ was up 13% from last year and was the most for a Tony Awards ceremony, according to CBS.

The only premiere on the five major English-language broadcast networks, the Fox alternative series “Stars on Mars,” was fourth among broadcast programs in its 8-9 p.m. time slot June 5 and 63rd for the week, averaging 1.323 million viewers.

The two NBA Finals games put ABC atop the network ratings for the second consecutive week, averaging 4.22 million viewers. Its most-watched nonsports program was a rerun of “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” 10th for the week and sixth among nonsports programming, averaging 3.515 million viewers.


CBS averaged 2.98 million viewers to finish second for the second consecutive week after 11 consecutive first-place finishes, 14 in the previous 15 weeks and 16 in the previous 18.

A shortened edition of “60 Minutes” led CBS ratings, averaging 5.054 million viewers, fourth for the week and second among nonsports programs.

NBC was third among the broadcast networks for the second consecutive week and the eighth time in nine weeks, averaging 2.32 million viewers.

Fox averaged 1.53 million viewers for its prime-time programming, led by its coverage of the New York Yankees’ 3-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox, which averaged 2.561 million viewers, 25th for the week.

The CW averaged 320,000 viewers. Its biggest draw for the third consecutive week was the superhero series “Superman & Lois,” which averaged 662,000 viewers, 129th among broadcast programs.

The 20 most-watched broadcast prime-time programs consisted of ABC’s coverage of two NBA Finals games and their two pregame shows; the NBC alternative series “America’s Got Talent” and “American Ninja Warrior”; CBS’ “60 Minutes” and its coverage of the Tony Awards that followed; reruns of the CBS alternative programs “The Price Is Right at Night” and “Let’s Make a Deal Primetime”; reruns of four ABC alternative series; reruns of five CBS scripted series; and CBS’ airing of the 2015 action spy film “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation.”


“Manifest” was Netflix’s most-streamed title, with viewers watching the 20 episodes of the supernatural drama’s fourth and final season, including the 10 episodes released June 2, for 78.15 million hours. The comedy-drama “Never Have I Ever,” which is also in its fourth and final season, finished second with 76.21 million hours watched of its 10 episodes in the four days they were available.

Netflix’s most popular movie was the Danish drama “A Beautiful Life,” which was watched for 17.42 million hours in its first full week of release, 4.2% more than the 16.71 million hours the previous week when it was available for four days.