Basic Cable Ranker: Week of Aug. 20

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News was No. 1 across basic cable for the week of Aug. 20. That’s in terms of total viewers, both in prime time (13 consecutive weeks) and across the 24-hour day (33 consecutive weeks).

FNC also managed to claim seven of the top 15 cable telecasts overall in total viewers, including presentations of Hannity, Tucker Carlson Tonight and The Five.

Fox News finishing No. 1 in total viewers isn’t exactly out of the ordinary. What is out of the ordinary was CNN finishing ahead of Fox News in the prime time demo. That rarely happens, yet it did this past week.


According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, CNN edged Fox News among adults 25-54 in prime time, 432,000 vs. 429,000. (FNC beat CNN in the total day demo 258,000 vs. 257,000).

CNN traditionally attracts a more casual news consumer than its Fox News and MSNBC counterparts, which have very dedicated fan bases. As a result, coverage of significant cultural and political events tend to give CNN a bigger ratings bump, and the network surely benefited ratings-wise from the Michael CohenPaul Manafort bombshell stories which broke on Tuesday, Aug. 21. The network also attracted tons of younger news viewers with its extensive coverage of Sen. John McCain‘s passing on Saturday afternoon. Coverage continued through the evening and well into Sunday.

MSNBC finished ahead of CNN in total viewers this past week, as expected, and was the second-most-watched network across basic cable, as shown below. But it finished behind both CNN and Fox News in the A25-54 demo.

Week of August 20, 2018

Basic Cable Top 10 – Prime Time (Total Viewers):

  1. Fox News (2,315,000)
  2. MSNBC (2,182,000)
  3. USA (1,391,000)
  4. HGTV (1,382,000)
  5. CNN (1,296,000)
  6. History (1,094,000)
  7. ESPN (1,040,000)
  8. Hallmark Channel (1,022,000)
  9. Investigation Discovery (987,000)
  10. Discovery (980,000)

Basic Cable Top 10 – Total Day (Total Viewers)

  1. Fox News (1,299,000)
  2. MSNBC (1,218,000)
  3. NICK (926,000)
  4. CNN (844,000)
  5. HGTV (748,000)
  6. Investigation Discovery (708,000)
  7. USA (591,000)
  8. Hallmark Channel (555,000)
  9. History (544,000)
  10. Food Network (508,000)

Basic cable ranker: Week of Aug. 20 (Total Viewers)