Basic Cable Ranker: Week of Dec. 9

By A.J. Katz 

The temperatures are dropping but Fox News ratings seem to be heating up.

FNC averaged the most total viewers of any basic cable network for the 49th straight week, and delivered its largest average total day audience of 2019, with 1.8 million viewers across the 6 a.m. – 6 a.m. Total Day daypart.

No other basic cable network averaged more than a million viewers in total day last week.


In prime time, FNC was also the most-watched cable network, per Nielsen data, averaging 3.05 million total viewers. Its 459,000 adults 25-54 average was also more than CNN and MSNBC.

The cable news top 10 was dominated by Fox News, with Hannity, Tucker Carlson Tonight and The Ingraham Angle leading the way. Even The Five topped The Rachel Maddow Show for the 3rd consecutive week in total viewers.

Additionally, Watters’ World had its most-watched broadcast of 2019 (2.2 million viewers during the 8 p.m. ET slot on Dec. 14), and Shannon Bream defeated Brian Williams in multiple audience categories at 11 p.m..

Lastly, during the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearing on Monday, Dec. 9, Fox News was the top cable news network in both total viewers and the demo, averaging 2.2 million viewers and 345,000 A25-54 viewers from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. ET. FNC also out-delivered the broadcast nets in total viewers from 9 a.m. – 2:45 p.m. ET (but did not beat the broadcasters in the demo).

MSNBC and CNN each snagged top 5 finishes in total day viewership for the week as well. MSNBC ranked 2nd in total day viewers, averaging 989,000 for the week (Monday – Sunday). CNN, No. 5, averaged 680,000.

MSNBC finished the week No. 4 in total prime time viewers, but CNN fell out of the top 10 (No. 11) in total day viewers.

CNN beat MSNBC in the total day demo, while MSNBC beat CNN in the prime time demo last week.

Compared to the same week in 2018, Fox News was +46% in total prime time viewers and +38% in total day viewers. Audience figures weren’t quite as positive for MSNBC and CNN relative to last year. MSNBC was -19% in prime time and -14% in total day vs. last year. CNN was -17% in prime time viewers and -12% in total day viewers.

ESPN was -1% in prime time viewers vs. last year.

Basic Cable Top 10 – Prime Time (Total Viewers)

  1. Fox News (3,048,000)
  2. ESPN (2,438,000)
  3. Hallmark Channel (1,633,000)
  4. MSNBC (1,598,000)
  5. A&E (1,078,000)
  6. HGTV (964,000)
  7. Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
  8. Discovery (910,000)
  9. Freeform (905,000)
  10. History (905,000)


Basic Cable Top 10 – Total Day (Total Viewers)

  1. FOX News (1,774,000)
  2. MSNBC (989,000)
  3. Hallmark Channel (940,000)
  4. ESPN (838,000)
  5. CNN (680,000)
  6. Nickelodeon (611,000)
  7. HGTV (595,000)
  8. A&E (557,000)
  9. ID (534,000)
  10. Lifetime (516,000)


Cable News Ratings (A25-54)

  • FNC – Prime Time (459,000) and Total Day (293,000)
  • MSNBC – Primetime (249,000) and Total Day (148,000)
  • CNN – Prime Time (214,000) and Total Day (165,000)

Basic cable ranker: Week of Dec. 9 (Total Viewers)