Basic Cable Ranker: Week of Dec. 31

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News Channel remained the most-watched cable news network last week,  according to live-plus-same-day Nielsen data, and the second most-watched network in all of basic cable in total day and prime time among total viewers, only behind ESPN which aired six college football bowl games on New Year’s Eve, the Rose Bowl and the NFL wild-card playoff round.

On the downside, FNC finished in third place behind CNN and MSNBC among adults 25-54 during the prime time daypart.

How’d that happen? No.1: Sean Hannity was off last week. No.2: The network’s New Year’s Eve special was not able to draw a particularly large audience. No. 3: The week included another not-so-great news cycle for the president, which gives CNN and MSNBC a lift. Throw all of those factors in a blender, and you get a third place finish in the ad-friendly category during prime time.


However, Fox News DID finish ahead of MSNBC in A25-54 across the 24-hour day; just not during prime time.

CNN, on the other hand, was the most-watched cable news network of the week among adults 25-54, finishing ahead of both MSNBC and Fox News during prime time and across the 24-hour day.

MSNBC managed to finish No. 3 in total viewers across all of basic cable, during prime time and across the 24-hour day, and averaged a larger total audience than CNN last week.

Here’s a closer look at the cable news numbers, followed by a basic cable ranker for the week of Dec. 31, 2018.

Cable News Rankings (Total Viewers)

  • Fox News: 1,630,000 prime time viewers /  1,135,000 total day viewers
  • MSNBC: 1,586,000 prime time viewers / 969,000 total day viewers
  • CNN:  994,000 prime time viewers / 754,000 total day viewers

Cable News Ratings (A25-54)

  • CNN: 310,000 prime time viewers / 218,000 total day viewers
  • MSNBC: 275,000 prime time viewers / 168,000 total day viewers
  • Fox News: 264,000 prime time viewers / 201,000 total day viewers


Week of Dec. 31: Prime Time

  1. ESPN (3,606,000)
  2. Fox News (1,630,000)
  3. MSNBC (1,586,000)
  4. Hallmark Channel (1,427,000)
  5. HGTV (1,293,000)
  6. A&E (1,145,000)
  7. TLC (1,123,000)
  8. History (1,119,000)
  9. Lifetime (1,105,000)
  10. Discovery (1,092,000)

Week of Dec. 31: Total Day (6 a.m. – 6 a.m.)

  1. ESPN (1,793,000)
  2. Fox News (1,135,000)
  3. MSNBC (969,000)
  4. Nickelodeon (852,000)
  5. Hallmark Channel (842,000)
  6. HGTV (830,000)
  7. Investigation Discovery (800,000)
  8. CNN (754,000)
  9. USA (644,000)
  10. Food Network (619,000)


Basic Cable Ranker: Week of Dec.31 (Total Viewers)