Major news networks in the U.S. appear to have benefitted immensely from the recent coronavirus pandemic and widespread protest against police brutality.

According to new reports based on Nielsen data, the three biggest cable news stations – Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC – saw record-breaking ratings in the second quarter, as viewers tuned in to hear the latest on the pandemic and the economy during a quarantine and an election year.

All three networks saw double-digit jumps in viewership compared to the second quarter of 2019, with Fox leading the charge at 1.96 million daily viewers on average and 3.57 million in primetime, a 48% spike. MSNBC trailed at second with averages of 1.21 million daily viewers and 2 million in primetime, while CNN averaged 1.19 million daily and 1.81 million in primetime.

While Fox typically sat atop the ratings, MSNBC and CNN had the largest percentage gains in viewership compared to the previous year. Despite coming third overall, CNN boasted the highest percentage growth, well over 50% in total and also within the key 25-54-year-old demographic. MSNBC was right behind it, with a 50% increase in total viewership.

During this time, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Fox also surpassed “Hannity” to become the most-watched program on cable. Carlson’s program, despite being dogged by controversy and lost sponsors over its coverage of “Black Lives Matter,” boasted 4.33 million total viewers, narrowly beating out his colleague Sean Hannity’s show which 4.31 million total viewers.

Across the aisle, “The Rachel Maddow Show” topped the rating for MSNBC, with 3.1 million total viewers.

rachel maddow TV host Rachel Maddow tends bar at the MSNBC after-party at the Italian Embassy, following the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner in Washington, April 27, 2013. Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst