Basic Cable Ranker: News, Home Improvement Networks Are Among Most Watched for April 2020

By A.J. Katz 

With millions of Americans at home and hungry for breaking news about the Covid-19 pandemic, cable news ratings soared during the month of April.

Fox News once again led the charge, and in the process, had its most-watched prime time in network history. Early evening coverage of the White House coronavirus task force daily briefings, to go with massive ratings for Tucker Carlson Tonight, and record ratings for other shows, explain the April 2020 win.

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, MSNBC averaged the second-largest audience on basic cable in prime time, edging CNN, HGTV and TLC rounded out the top five basic cable networks in prime-time viewing.


For the first time in three years, CNN outperformed MSNBC in total day viewing (despite MSNBC having its most-watched total day ever). The network performed particularly well in the key A25-54 demo, delivering its largest adults 25-54 audience in total day since September 2005.

With so many folks now at home, it shouldn’t be surprising to see home improvement networks HGTV and Food Network follow the news networks as among the most-watched outlets on basic cable for April.

While it’s likely the three-most-watched networks in each daypart (Fox News, MSNBC, CNN) will remain in the current order, it’s possible the month-end rankings will change once delayed viewing data from Nielsen arrives in the coming days. But for now, here’s a look at the most-watched basic cable networks for April 2020, according to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data:

Basic Cable Network Ranker: April 2020 (Total Viewers)