MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow show was not only the most watched program on cable news for August. It was also the most watched show on all of basic cable, which means that more people are watching Maddow than are watching sports and entertainment on basic cable.
TV Newser reported, “Rachel Maddow hosted the No. 1 cable news program for the month of August, and was one of the most-watched shows across all of basic cable. Not only is Maddow No. 1 this month, but she posted significant year-over-year audience growth in total viewers (+73 percent) and among adults 25-54 (+72 percent).”
Maddow has nearly doubled her audience from a presidential election year. That normally does not happen. The Trump scandals have given Maddow a nightly storyline that has viewers who want more than a recap of Trump’s behavior something to tune in for every weeknight.
Hannity on Fox News has become the Trump mouthpiece for propaganda, so it is no surprise that Hannity was number two for the month of August. Tucker Carlson was third, and posting a 16% drop over Bill O’Reilly’s numbers in the 8 PM timeslot, and The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell was fifth.
For the first time in decades, there is a real and sustained battle for cable news supremacy. For the first time, it is MSNBC that is in a neck and neck race with Fox News for number one. August is a notoriously slow month for entertainment programming. The cable news shows will slide once the NFL and college football return to cable in September, but Rachel Maddow has changed the landscape by showing that deep fact based reporting and storytelling can be rewarded by viewers.
Instead of endless panel segments and talking heads, viewers would be more informed and better served if the cable news model looked more like The Rachel Maddow Show.