Basic Cable Ranker: Week of Dec. 24

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News Channel was the No. 4 basic cable network in total viewers for the week of Dec. 24, finishing behind ESPN, which was (and I guess technically still is) in the midst of college football bowl season. Fox News was also behind the holiday movie-focused Hallmark Channel, and USA in prime time viewers.

FNC was also the No. 3 network in total day viewers, behind ESPN and Hallmark.

How did Fox News compare against its cable news rivals? If we examine the traditional Monday – Sunday time period (as opposed to analyzing weekdays only), Fox News still managed to edge MSNBC in total prime time viewers despite being -20 percent in the daypart vs. the same week in 2017.

MSNBC gave Fox News a significant run for its money in total prime time viewers, falling short by just -7 percent, while posting +14 percent year-over-year audience growth in the process.

But the Comcast-owned politics-focused cable network did finish No. 1 among younger news viewers this past week during prime time. This includes a win during prime time among the key A25-54 demo that advertisers covet. MSNBC took advantage of Sean Hannity‘s absence and a very favorable news cycle to dominate the competition in the prime time demo.

That was especially true for Rachel Maddow, who continues to post huge numbers.

While Fox News finished runner up in the prime time demo, it actually finished No. 1 in the demo across 6 a.m. – 6 a.m. daypart. CNN defeated MSNBC in the total day demo, per usual, and came very close to knocking off Fox News, both in prime time and across total day.

MSNBC was flat in prime time demo viewers year-over-year, while Fox News was -37 percent and CNN was -35 percent.

Fox News was the top cable news network in total day viewers (6 a.m. – 6 a.m.), despite double digit year-over-year losses (-19 percent). MSNBC (+22 percent) and CNN (+5 percent) posted year-over-year growth in total day viewers, despite finishing No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.

Cable News Rankings (Total Viewers)

  • FNC: 1,272,000 prime time viewers / 966,000 total day viewers
  • MSNBC: 1,194,000 prime time viewers / 796,000 total day viewers
  • CNN: 650,000 prime time viewers / 621,000 total day viewers

Cable News Ratings (A25-54)

  • MSNBC – Prime time (207,000) and Total Day (145,000)
  • FNC – Prime time (186,000) and Total Day (166,000)
  • CNN – Prime time (180,000) and Total Day (162,000)

Below is the compete Nielsen basic cable network ranker for the final week of 2018.

Basic cable ranker: Week of Dec. 24…