Weekly Ratings Ranker: The ‘Big Three’ All Finish in the Prime-Time Top 10

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News Channel continues to dominate the basic cable landscape, and finished No. 1 in total day viewers for the week of August 6, per Nielsen data. That’s now 31 consecutive weeks FNC has finished No. 1 across the 24-hour day. Despite the win, Fox News’ 1.28 million viewer average across the 24-hour-day is actually -4 percent vs. the comparable week in 2017, and its 245,000 A25-54 viewer average across the 24-hour day is -18 percent year-over-year.

The news was good for FNC in prime time. Its 2.2 million total viewer average in the daypart last week ranks No. 1 across all of basic cable, and is +2 percent vs. last year. Fox News has now been the most-watched basic cable network in prime time for 11 consecutive weeks. That said, FNC lost some of its A25-54 viewers vs. the same week last year (-4 percent).

For context, the same week last year included coverage of the white nationalist and neo-Nazi protests and counter-protests in Charlottesville (Saturday, Aug. 12 2017). This undoubtedly influenced the greater-than-normal year-over-year audience declines for the cable newsers, particularly the losses among adults 25-54, who are more likely to tune into cable news for big events than on a consistent basis.


FNC claimed 17 of the top 30 cable telecasts overall in total viewers, including presentations of Hannity, (which was the No. 1 program on basic cable this past week), The Ingraham Angle, Tucker Carlson Tonight, The Five and Special Report with Bret Baier.

Despite a controversy-filled week for Laura Ingraham, The Ingraham Angle won its timeslot in total viewers by a healthy margin, in addition to defeating CNN programming by +25 percent and MSNBC by +20 percent in the 25-54 demo.

MSNBC finished the week of August 6 as the third-most-watched basic cable network in total day, and posted +4 percent growth vs. the same week last year. That said,  MSNBC still losing younger news viewers, and was -15 percent in the total day demo vs. last year.

The NBC cable news network finished No. 2 in total prime time viewers this past week, and was flat in total audience vs. the same week last year. But similar to its competitors, it saw losses among younger viewers. MSNBC was -16 percent in the prime time viewers vs. last year.

CNN finished the week of Aug. 6 as the No. 6 basic cable network across the 24-hour day; a solid feat. But its 674,000 total viewer average is -13 percent vs. last year, and its 199,000 A25-54 average in the daypart is -23 percent vs. last year.

CNN also snagged a top 10 finish in prime time, coming in at No. 7 with a 992,000 total viewer average. But that figure is -7 percent vs. last year, and like Fox News and MSNBC, CNN was down from last year in the prime time demo (-16 percent).

Here are the business news network numbers, per live-plus-same-day data from Nielsen.

Business Day:

  • FBN: 188,000 total viewers / 21,000 A25-54
  • CNBC: 158,000 total viewers / 23,000 A25-54

Market Hours:

  • FBN: 193,000 total viewers / 23,000 A25-54
  • CNBC: 162,000 total viewers / 24,000 A25-54

Total Day:

  • FBN: 140,000 total viewers / 18,000 A25-54
  • CNBC: 136,000 total viewers / 38,000 A25-54

Below are top business news programs in total viewers, per live-same-day data from Nielsen:

  • FBN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight (313,000)
  • FBN’s Varney & Co (252,000)
  • CNBC’s Squawk on the Street (176,000)
  • FBN’s Countdown to the Closing Bell with Liz Claman (171,000)
  • FBN’s The Evening Edit with Elizabeth MacDonald (163,000)
  • FBN’s After the Bell (155,000)

Below are the top 10 basic cable networks for the week, followed by a more extensive ranker:

Basic Cable Top 10 – Prime time (Total Viewers)

  1. Fox News (2,181,000)
  2. MSNBC (1,753,000)
  3. HGTV (1,331,000)
  4. USA (1,248,000)
  5. History (1,063,000)
  6. TBS (1,023,000)
  7. CNN (992,000)
  8. TLC (964,000)
  9. Investigation Discovery (949,000)
  10. Hallmark Channel (943,000)

Basic Cable Top 10 – Total Day (Total Viewers)

  1. Fox News (1,281,000)
  2. Nickelodeon (1,016,000)
  3. MSNBC (983,000)
  4. HGTV (756,000)
  5. Investigation Discovery (694,000)
  6. CNN (674,000)
  7. USA (579,000)
  8. TNT (573,000)
  9. Hallmark Channel (560,000)
  10. History (548,000)


Basic cable ranker: Week of Aug. 6 (Total Viewers)