Basic Cable Ranker: Fox News Was the No. 1 Cable Network Last Week

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News has been a dominant basic cable network in the ratings department over the past couple of years. But the record-setting audience it drew for Pres. Trump’s 2018 State of the Union last week (11.7 million viewers) boosted it to another level.

FNC averaged 3.9 million total viewers in prime time this past week. Not only is that No. 1 overall across all of basic cable, but it’s roughly double the audience drawn by the No. 2 basic cable network in prime time, which just so happened to be MSNBC.

From Trump’s first SOTU, to the infamous Rep. Devin Nunes memo, it was a chaotic week in television news, and Americans flocked to their TVs.


In addition to delivering record-setting State of the Union ratings last week, Fox News as a network was +19 percent in total prime time viewers, and +1 percent in total day viewers last week versus the comparable week in 2017 (week of Jan. 30).

The network also finished No. 1 across basic cable among adults 25-54, which is a bit out of the ordinary.

On Feb. 2, Hannity was the No. 4 prime time program in total viewers, across broadcast and cable. The Ingraham Angle, Special Report With Bret Baier, and Tucker Carlson Tonight also gave FNC a significant presence near the top of the weekly basic cable program rankings.

MSNBC also delivered massive audiences last week, shooting up to a No. 2 ranking both in prime time and across total day viewing. Led by Rachel Maddow, NBC’s cable news network posted +31 percent growth in total prime time viewers, and +32 percent growth in total day viewers versus the same week in 2017.

CNN finished No. 8 across basic cable in total prime time viewers, and No. 7 in total day. While a top 10 finish is generally a positive, CNN did post a double digit audience decline from the same week in 2017.

Basic Cable Top 10 – Prime time (Total Viewers)

  1. Fox News (3,895,000)
  2. MSNBC (1,935,000)
  3.  HGTV (1,468,000)
  4. USA (1,456,000)
  5. History (1,294,000)
  6. Investigation Discovery (1,145,000)
  7. ESPN (1,122,000)
  8. CNN (1,065,000)
  9. Discovery (1,063,000)
  10. TBS (1,048,000)

Basic Cable Top 10 – Total Day (Total Viewers)

  1. Fox News (1,935,000)
  2. MSNBC (1,027,000)
  3. Nickelodeon (957,000)
  4. Investigation Discovery (826,000)
  5. HGTV (822,000)
  6. USA (743,000)
  7. CNN (704,000)
  8. History (625,000)
  9. ESPN (610,000)
  10. TNT (588,000)

On the business news side – FBN finished ahead of CNBC in total Business Day viewers (M-F, 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.), but the latter beat the former in the key A25-54 demo.

Lou Dobbs delivered the most-watched business news program for the 76th consecutive week (454,000 total viewers). Varney & Co, Countdown to the Closing Bell with Liz Claman (which had its highest-rated week ever), Cavuto Coast to Coast, The Intelligence Report with Trish Regan, Risk & Reward, and After the Bell were among the top eight rated programs for the week.

Mornings With Maria (hosted by Maria Bartiromo) had its 2nd-best week ever.

Both Fox Business and CNBC posted year-over-year total audience growth in total day. CNBC was also +38 percent in total prime time viewers from last year.

Business Day (M-F, 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET)
FBN: 268,000 total viewers /  34,000 A25-54
CNBC: 205,000 total viewers / 37,000 A25-54

Total Day (M-Su, 6 a.m. – 6 a.m.)
FBN: 167,000 total viewers / 25,000 A25-54
CNBC: 157,000 total viewers / 49,000 A25-54

Basic Cable Ranker: Week of Jan. 29 (Total Viewers)

Basic Cable Ranker: Week of Jan. 29 (A25-54)