Basic Cable Ranker: Fox News Marks 18 Weeks at No. 1 in Total Day; TNT Moves to No. 1 in Prime Time on Strength of Riveting NBA Playoffs Broadcasts

By A.J. Katz Comment

Fox News Channel marked its 18th consecutive week as the most-watched basic cable network across the 24-hour day, averaging roughly 1.4 million total viewers for the week of May 6, per Nielsen data.

Presentations of Hannity, Tucker Carlson Tonight, The Ingraham Angle and The Five claimed 17 of the top 40 cable telecasts overall in total viewers.

On Wednesday, FNC’s town hall with Sen. Amy Klobuchar swept the cable news competition in total viewers and the demo. The town hall with Sen. Klobuchar marked the third most-watched town hall featuring 2020 Presidential candidates so far this year.

Despite the dominance, Fox News was -5% in total prime time viewers, -7% in total day viewers, -21% in the prime time demo and -18% in the total day demo this past week vs. the comparable week last year.

Additionally, the network dropped to second place in prime time, behind TNT, which has drawn huge audiences for its riveting 2019 NBA Playoffs prime time broadcasts.

With the NBA (and NHL) Playoffs in full swing, MSNBC dropped a bit in the rankings. The network finished No.4 in total prime time viewers and No. 3 in total day viewers this past week. That said, MSNBC actually posted total audience growth from the same week one year ago. The network was +3% in total prime time viewers and +1% in total day viewers versus the comparable week last year. The story was very different in the A25-54 category. Compared to last year, MSNBC was -18% in the prime time demo, and -26% in the total day demo.

CNN was a top 10 basic cable network last week in total day viewers (No. 8), but finished No. 15 in total prime time viewers this past week. Versus the comparable week in 2018, CNN was -5% in total prime time viewers, -11% in total day viewers, -25% in the prime time demo and -23% in the total day demo.

The 2019 NBA Playoffs have given TNT a shot in the arm. Not only did the network move past Fox News in prime time, but it posted +23% growth in the daypart vs. what it delivered during the comparable week in 2018. The same has been true for ESPN, which finished No. 3 in prime time, and buoyed by its NHL Playoffs coverage, NBCSN found itself as the sixth-most-watched basic cable network last week in prime time.

A&E (+18%) and Hallmark Channel (+48%) were two more top 10 networks which had great weeks relative to 2018.

PRIME TIME

  1. TNT (3,270,000)
  2. Fox News Channel (2,352,000)
  3. ESPN (1,802,000)
  4. MSNBC (1,712,000)
  5. HGTV (1,169,000)
  6. NBCSN (1,028,000)
  7. USA (1,023,000)
  8. A&E (956,000)
  9. History (935,000)
  10. Hallmark (931,000)

TOTAL DAY (6a – 6a)

  1. Fox News (1,365,000)
  2. TNT (1,073,000)
  3. MSNBC (920,000)
  4. ESPN (699,000)
  5. HGTV (660,000)
  6. Nickelodeon (654,000)
  7. Investigation Discovery (650,000)
  8. CNN (568,000)
  9. A&E (497,000)
  10. History (496,000)

Basic cable ranker: Week of May 6 (Total Viewers)

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