Basic Cable Ranker: Week of July 29

By A.J. Katz Comment

The spotlight was on CNN last week, as the network hosted Democratic presidential primary debates on back-to-back nights live from Detroit.

As one might have guessed, it completed the week of July 29 as the No. 1 basic cable network in prime time, averaging 3.27 million total viewers in the daypart. CNN averaged +695,000 more prime time viewers than its closest competitor, a significant margin of victory for the network.

CNN was also the top cable news network among adults 25-54, and finished the week as the second-most-watched basic cable network in total day.

Which network was No. 1 for the week in total day? That would be Fox News.

FNC ran its streak to 30 consecutive weeks at No. 1 in the 6 a.m. – 6 a.m. daypart, with a 1.45 million viewer average. No network came close to averaging a million viewers in that daypart. Fox News also averaged 2.57 million viewers in prime time this past week, second only to CNN. Fox News’ streak as basic cable’s most-watched network in prime time ends at 11 weeks.

MSNBC was the third-most-watched basic cable network last night, both in total day and the prime time dayparts.

The three-most-watched cable networks last week were of the cable news variety.

When compared with the same week in 2018, Fox News was +7% in total prime time viewers. The network didn’t seem to be negatively impacted by CNN’s prime time debates, ratings-wise. MSNBC, on the other hand, was -21% in total prime time viewers, while CNN was predictably WAY up (+259%), thanks to the debates. In total day, Fox was +10%, MSNBC was -12% and CNN was +56%.

Cable News Week of July 15 (Total Viewers)

CNN: Prime Time (3,260,000) and Total Day (995,000)
Fox News: Prime Time (2,565,000) and Total Day (1,453,000)
MSNBC: Prime Time (1,273,000) and Total Day (855,000)

Cable News Week of July 15 (Adults 25-54)
CNN: Prime Time (916,000) and Total Day (264,000)
Fox News: Prime Time (415,000) and Total Day (258,000)
MSNBC: Prime Time (190,000) and Total Day (126,000)

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, here are the 10 most-watched basic cable networks for the week in total day and prime time:

PRIME TIME (Total Viewers)

  1. CNN (3,260,000)
  2. Fox News (2,565,000)
  3. MSNBC (1,273,000)
  4. Discovery (1,224,000)
  5. HGTV (1,219,000)
  6. TBS (1,079,000)
  7. A&E (1,032,000)
  8. TLC (1,020,000)
  9. Hallmark (980,000)
  10. USA (979,000)


  1. Fox News (1,453,000)
  2. CNN (995,000)
  3. MSNBC (855,000)
  4. Nickelodeon (756,000)
  5. HGTV (679,000)
  6. Investigation Discovery (633,000)
  7. Discovery (549,000)
  8. Hallmark (527,000)
  9. History (525,000)
  10. A&E (504,000)

Source: Nielsen live-plus-same-day data. 7/29/2019 – 08/4/2019. M-Su 8p-11p / M-Su 6a-6a

Basic cable ranker: Week of July 29 (Total Viewers)