Fox News host Sean Hannity attracted more viewers than any of his competitors in his 9 p.m. debut Monday night, beating out MSNBC's Rachel Maddow in the first head-to-head matchup between the two cable news heavyweights.
Hannity, who previously hosted his show on weeknights at 10 p.m., debuted his show at 9 p.m. on Monday, attracting 610,000 more viewers than his progressive MSNBC rival Maddow, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
"The Rachel Maddow Show" trailed "Hannity" by 610,000 viewers and a modest 75,000 adults 25-54, with "Hannity" averaging a robust 3.27 million viewers and a demo audience of 666,000 (spooky!).
The new battle, the result of the latest of many FNC scheduling changes over the last year, comes at the end of a quarter that made Maddow the undisputed queen of cable news. Though competitor FNC won the three-month span in primetime and total day, her MSNBC hour bested "Hannity" among total viewers with an average 2.72 million to his 2.54 million and among adults 25-54 with 606,000 to his 533,000.
The race to No. 1 will be especially interesting during the last three months of the year, now that the shows are airing simultaneously—and Hannity has the advantage of more U.S. TVs turned on during his new time period.
The third quarter of 2017 marked the 63rd consecutive quarter that Fox News has been the most-watched cable news network, dating back to 2002. Rupert Murdoch's news network averaged 1.4 million total viewers and 2.2 million viewers during prime-time coverage to win both categories.
Fox News won both of the aforementioned categories among the key news demographic of adults ages 25-54, in which the network averaged 298,000 total viewers and 436,000 viewers during the primetime 8-11 p.m. time slots, Fox reported.
FNC also was the top-rated basic cable network in both prime time and total day viewers, for the fifth straight quarter.
Fox News' overall quarterly victory comes amidst a prime-time lineup change that is expected to help the network's ratings even more. "Hannity" moved to 9 p.m. ET on Monday, while "The Five" shifted back to its original time of 5 p.m. ET, where it was regularly among the most-watched shows in all of cable. Laura Ingraham and Shannon Bream take over the 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET positions late next month, giving the network a strong female duo in prime time and adding an extra hour of live programming in the process.
"The Rachel Maddow Show" back in May helped MSNBC beat its cable news rivals in the 25-54 demographic and total viewership in primetime for the first time in the network's 21-year existence.
CNN and MSNBC have been competing with their coverage of President Donald Trump's recent controversies, including the investigation into alleged collusion between Trump's campaign and Russian officials.