Basic Cable Ranker: Week of Dec. 3

By A.J. Katz 

It was a unique week in the race for cable ratings supremacy.

Fox News Channel was, once again, the most-watched basic cable network across the 24-hour day, but MSNBC finished No. 1 across cable news in the A25-54 demo, and Rachel Maddow had the No. 1 cable news program across the board (3.23 million total viewers / 599,000 A25-54 viewers).

In total day, FNC garnered 1.4 million in total viewers and 244,000 in the 25-54 demo for the week of Dec. 3. Additionally, FNC was the second most-watched basic cable network in prime time, only behind ESPN, which thrives this time of year in prime time with Monday Night Football.

FNC also claimed 17 of the top 30 cable telecasts overall in total viewers, including presentations of Hannity, The Five, Tucker Carlson Tonight, Outnumbered Overtime, Special Report with Bret Baier, in addition to FNC’s special coverage of President George H.W. Bush’s funeral.

Despite that coverage and top two finishes, Fox News posted double digit percent declines vs. the comparable week in 2017 (Dec. 4). The network was -16 percent in total viewers, and -10 percent in total day viewers.

Cable News Rankings (Total Viewers) / Mon – Sun

  • FNC ranked No. 2 in prime time (2,178,000) / No. 1 in total day (1,418,000)
  • MSNBC ranked No. 3 in prime time (2,064,000) and No. 2 in total day (1,127,000)
  • CNN ranked No. 9 in prime time (1,036,000) and No.6 in total day (807,000)

Cable News Ratings (A25-54) / Mon – Sun

  • FNC – Prime time (356,000) / Total Day (244,000)
  • MSNBC – Prime time (360,000) / Total Day (192,000)
  • CNN – Prime time (297,000) / Total Day (204,000)

MSNBC and CNN each had big weeks, though for slightly different reasons. MSNBC drew huge prime time audiences as a result of breaking news regarding the Trump-Russia investigation and the president’s former lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen finding himself in hot water. CNN drew a substantial audience relative to last year for its coverage of President George H.W. Bush‘s state funeral on Wednesday.

MSNBC ranked No. 3 in total prime time viewers, No. 2 in total day viewers, and was also +7 percent year-over-year in both dayparts vs. the comparable week last year.

CNN ranked No. 9 in total prime time viewers, and No. 6 in total day viewers. The network posted +16 percent growth in prime time and +10 percent growth in total day vs. the same week last year.

Basic Cable Top 10 – Prime Time (Total Viewers)

  1. ESPN (2,570,000)
  2. Fox News (2,178,000)
  3. MSNBC (2,064,000)
  4. Hallmark Channel (2,034,000)
  5. USA (1,223,000)
  6. A&E (1,090,000)
  7. HGTV (1,066,000)
  8. TBS (1,054,000)
  9. CNN (1,036,000)
  10. History (1,001,000)

Basic Cable Top 10 – Total Day (total viewers)

  1. Fox News (1,418,000)
  2. MSNBC (1,127,000)
  3. Hallmark Channel (1,096,000)
  4. ESPN (875,000)
  5. Nickelodeon (835,000)
  6. CNN (807,000)
  7. Investigation Discovery (708,000)
  8. USA (616,000)
  9. HGTV (613,000)
  10. Food Network (608,000)

Business news:

Business Day (9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET)

FBN: 213,000 total viewers / 20,000 A25-54

CNBC: 186,000 total viewers and 34,000 A25-54

Market Hours (9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. ET)

FBN: 215,000 total viewers / 20,000 A25-54

CNBC: 190,000 total viewers and 34,000 A25-54

Nielsen numbers for the top 5 business programs:

Lou Dobbs Tonight (315,000), Varney & Co. (265,000), Squawk on the Street (205,000), Squawk Alley (198,000), Fast Money Halftime Report (197,000)

Basic cable ranker: Week of Dec. 3 2018 (Total Viewers)

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