Fox News, MSNBC, No. 1 and No. 2 on All of Cable

By A.J. Katz 

Americans can’t get enough cable news, it appears.

Fox News finished the week of March 5, 2018 as the most-watched network on cable in total day and in prime time. MSNBC was No. 2 on basic cable in both categories.

Fox News’s feat, while impressive, isn’t exactly unique. After all, FNC has now been No. 1 in total day viewers for a whopping 9 consecutive weeks, and once again finished a top 5 basic cable network in the A25-54 during total day. The network ranked No. 9 across cable in the prime time demo (A25-54).

Additionally, FNC programs made up 9 of the top 25 cable telecasts with episodes of Hannity and Tucker Carlson Tonight accounting for 6 of the 20-most-watched in all of cable.

But compared to the same week last year, Fox News was down -8 percent in total prime time viewers, and down -8 percent in total day viewers.

MSNBC continues its run as the No. 2 cable network in total viewers in prime time and total day. The network also managed to post year-over-year audience growth, both in prime time (up +9 percent) and in total day viewers (up +12 percent).

But its performance among younger viewers isn’t quite as impressive. MSNBC finished No. 13 in the prime time demo (ahead of CNN) and No. 15 in the total day demo last week (behind CNN).

CNN managed to average more than 1 million viewers in prime time last week, and defeated MSNBC in the total day demo. But on the downside, the network posted year-over-year audience declines. CNN was -3 percent in prime time, and -9 percent in total day from the comparable week last year.

ESPN had a newsworthy week. It named a new president, James Pitaro. It finished No. 3 across cable in in total prime time viewers, and No. 1 across cable in the prime time demoe. That said, The Worldwide Leader was -3 percent in total prime time viewers versus last year.

Over on Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight remained business TV’s most-watched program. Additionally, both Cavuto Coast to Coast and After the Bell  dominated their time period competition in total viewers for the fourth consecutive week.

Marking 42 consecutive weeks as the most-watched market-open program on television, Varney & Co. marked 42 straight weeks as business TV’s most-watched market-open program, and Liz Claman‘s daily market-close program also had another strong week, per Nielsen data.

Business Day:

FBN:  213,000 total viewers /  25,000 A25-54

Market Hours:

FBN:  218,000 total viewers /  26,000 A25-54


Here’s basic cable’s top 5 for the week of March 5, 2018:


Total Viewers

  1. Fox News (2,291,000)
  2. MSNBC (1,853,000)
  3. ESPN (1,165,000)
  4. HGTV (1,464,000)
  5. History (1,295,000)


  1. ESPN (750,000)
  2. Discovery (589,000)
  3. USA (565,000)
  4. TBS (564,000)
  5. AMC (509,000)


Total Viewers

  1. Fox News (1,359,000)
  2. MSNBC (999,000)
  3. Nickelodeon (951,000)
  4. HGTV (802,000)
  5. ESPN (786,000)


  1. ESPN (367,000)
  2. Investigation Discovery (323,000)
  3. HGTV (280,000)
  4. Fox News (276,000)
  5. TBS (274,000)

Finally, the duo of network rankers, sorted by total viewers and adults 25-54, respectively:

Basic cable ranker: Week of March 5 (Total Viewers)

Basic cable ranker: Week of March 5 (A25-54)