2016 Ratings: Fox News Channel is Cable TV’s Most-Watched Network

By A.J. Katz 

It’s been a roller coaster year for Fox News. If you have been reading TVNewser at all this year, you know why. But all of the off-camera controversies never negatively impact viewership. In fact, celebrating its 20th year on cable, Fox News finished 2016 as the most-watched basic cable network in prime time and total day, a first for the network.

“As we close out our 20th year, Fox News continues to redefine television news and break ratings records, proving it is indeed the most watched and most trusted television news source in the country,” said co-presidents Jack Abernethy and Bill Shine.

The ratings for 2016 (Nielsen Live + Same Day data):

  • Primetime (Mon-Sun): 2,429,000 Total Viewers / 481,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 1,395,000 Total Viewers / 280,000 A25-54

Fox News will also close out 2016 as the 5th most-watched network in prime time in all of TV– only behind the big four broadcast nets: NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX.

Averaging 2.4 million total prime time viewers and 1.4 million total day viewers, FNC earned another milestone with its highest viewership ever in total day for a full year.  The 483,000 prime time demo viewer average is the network’s best since 2010. Additionally, Fox News remained the No. 1 cable news channel in every relevant measurement.

The election was the story of 2016, and Fox News benefited immensely from a ratings standpoint. The final presidential debate of the cycle was a watershed moment for the network. Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace was the moderator, and more viewers watched the debate on Fox News than on any other network, broadcast or cable. FNC was also most-watched cable news network for full election night coverage (7 p.m. – 3 a.m.)

Through December 25, 2016, FNC is up +36 percent in total viewers and and up +42 percent in the key A25-54 demo compared with the network’s 2015 prime time performance. The network also delivered year-over-year growth in total day, up +29 percent in total viewers and up +36 percent in the A25-54 demo.

For the year, every hour on Fox News was up double-digits vs. 2015. Several programs in the daily lineup achieved a yearly high, including the network’s prime time programs – The O’Reilly Factor, The Kelly File and Hannity.

Bill O’Reilly marked 15 consecutive years as the No. 1 show in cable news among total viewers. Through December 13, The Factor is up +18 percent in total viewers and up +19 percent in A25-54 versus 2015.

Despite all of Megyn Kelly’s trials and tribulations this year, The Kelly File achieved its best year since launch, and was also up +18 percent in total viewers and  up+19 percent in A25-54 relative to 2015.

Sean Hannity also had a breakout 2016. His program was up +44 percent in total viewers and up +46 percent in the news demo year-over-year.