Basic Cable Ranker: Week of Dec. 25

By A.J. Katz 

Boasting an impressive broadcast slate of “New Year’s Six” college football games during holiday week, ESPN was the No. 1 basic cable network for the week of Dec. 25 in all relevant categories.

Per Nielsen live+same-day data, The Worldwide Leader in Sports averaged over 6.4 million total viewers in prime time, significantly more than second-place finisher Hallmark Channel.

Fox News came in a distant third, both in total prime time viewers and in total day viewers.


USA and TNT finished No. 4 and No. 5 in prime time, while Nickelodeon and Discovery rounded out the Top 5 in total day viewers.

Basic Cable Top 5 – Prime Time (Total Viewers)

  1. ESPN (6,439,000)
  2. Hallmark Channel (2,208,000)
  3. Fox News (1,589,000)
  4. USA (1,481,000)
  5. TNT (1,342,000)

Basic Cable Top 5 – Total Day (Total Viewers)

  1. ESPN (2,340,000)
  2. Hallmark Channel (1,275,000)
  3. Fox News (1,191,000)
  4. Nickelodeon (958,000)
  5. Discovery (896,000)

It was a relatively quiet week for cable news ratings-wise. While Fox News earned its usual Top 5 spot in total viewers, MSNBC fell to No. 9 in prime time and No. 10 in total day, while CNN fell to No. 18 in prime time and No. 14 in total day.

Fox News also beat its cable news rivals among adults 25-54, averaging 297,000 in the prime time daypart and 243,000 in total day.

CNN delivered 277,000 prime time demo viewers and 202,000 in total day, while MSNBC hauled in 208,000 A25-54 in prime time and 140,000 in total day.

But again, the story of the week across cable was ESPN’s dominant performance in the race for ratings supremacy.

According to the network, “The New Year’s Six” games averaged nearly 15 million total viewers, which, after the streaming audience is fully reported, will represent the most-watched New Year’s Six ever. The CFP semifinal games, highlighted by a riveting, double-overtime Georgia-Oklahoma Rose Bowl Game and a slightly less dramatic Alabama-Clemson Sugar Bowl, was +9 percent from last year and +24 percent from the 2015 season CFP semis.

Basic Cable Ranker: Week of Dec. 25, 2017 (Total Viewers)