Basic Cable Ranker: Week of Sept. 16

By A.J. Katz 

After slipping behind ESPN last week, Fox News moved back up into the No. 1 spot in prime time, finishing at the top of the basic cable heap for the week of Sept.16.

In addition to being the most-watched basic cable network in prime time, FNC also marked its 37th consecutive week as the most-watched basic cable network in the 6 a.m. – 6 a.m. time period.

Not surprisingly, FNC averaged far more viewers than CNN or MSNBC in all of the key time periods and key measurements. This includes beating CNN and MSNBC combined with 2.5 million viewers and 354,000 in the A25-54 demo during prime time.

On the programming front – Hannity’s Sept. 16th broadcast ranked as the most-watched non-sports cable telecast of the week, for the second straight week (3.36 million viewers).

Presentations of Hannity, Tucker Carlson Tonight, The Ingraham Angle, The Five and Special Report with Bret Baier garnered 17 of the top 30 cable telecasts in total viewers.

Additionally, Fox News @ Night anchored by Shannon Bream defeated MSNBC’s 11th Hour with Brian Williams for the week in the key A25-54 demo, while the latter beat the former in average total viewers.

Maria Bartiromo‘s heavily-publicized Sunday night special about A.I. out-performed its cable news timeslot competition (8 p.m.). However, it lost a chunk of its 7 p.m. lead-in, which was a replay of Fox News Sunday. Viewership then rose after her Bartiromo’s special.

MSNBC ranked as the third-most-watched network on all of basic cable this past week in prime time, only behind Fox News and ESPN. MSNBC finished No. 2 in total day viewers, ahead of ESPN. It also beat rival CNN in the A25-54 demo during prime time. However, MSNBC fell short to CNN in the demo across the 6 a.m.-6 a.m. time period (just barely), and continues to lose viewers from its impressive 2017 and 2018.

The network’s climate change forum didn’t perform particularly well either. Yes, MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes: Climate in Crisis special defeated CNN’s AC360 in total viewers on Thursday, but fell short to the 8 p.m. CNN program in the key A25-54 demo and was down double digits from the network’s 8 p.m. average, year-to-date.

CNN finished the week ranked No.12 in total prime time viewers (775,000), far behind Fox News and MSNBC in prime time. It still held a spot in the Top 10 in total day viewing, coming in at No.7  by averaging 552,000 viewers across 6 a.m. – 6 a.m. It also beat MSNBC in total day among adults 25-54 (127,000 vs. 118,000).

When compared with the same week in 2018, the big three cable newsers slumped. Fox News was -12% in total prime time viewers. MSNBC was -20% in total prime time viewers, while CNN was -18% in the same daypart. In total day, Fox was -9%, MSNBC was -18% and CNN was -16%.

Cable News Week of Sept. 16 (Total Viewers)
Fox News: Prime Time (2,451,000) and Total Day (1,377,000)
MSNBC: Prime Time (1,549,000) and Total Day (874,000)
CNN: Prime Time (775,000) and Total Day (552,000)

Cable News Week of Sept. 16 (Adults 25-54)
Fox News: Prime Time (354,000) and Total Day (227,000)
MSNBC: Prime Time (217,000) and Total Day (118,000)
CNN: Prime Time (186,000) and Total Day (127,000)

Basic Cable Top Five (Prime Time)

  1. Fox News (2,451,000)
  2. ESPN (2,325,000)
  3. MSNBC (1,549,000)
  4. HGTV (1,163,000)
  5. USA (1,044,000)

Basic Cable Top Five (Total Day)

  1. FNC (1,377,000)
  2. MSNBC (874,000)
  3. ESPN (867,000)
  4. HGTV (628,000)
  5. Nickelodeon (619,000)

Source: Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, week of Sept.16, 2019.

Basic cable ranker: Week of Sept. 16 (Total Viewers)