Basic Cable Ranker: Week of Sept. 23

By A.J. Katz 

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Fox News, MSNBC and CNN were three of the five-most-watched networks on basic cable for the week of Sept. 23.

Fox News continued to chug along No. 1 on cable in both prime time and total day dayparts, marking the 38th consecutive week it has finished No. 1 in the 6 a.m.  6 a.m. time period.

Hannity’s Thursday, Sept. 26 broadcast was the most-watched non-sports telecast on cable last week, averaging more than four million total viewers.

Hannity, Tucker Carlson Tonight, The Five and The Ingraham Angle notched nine of the Top 15 cable telecasts in total viewers for the week.

Additionally, Fox News @ Night anchored by Shannon Bream defeated MSNBC’s 11th Hour with Brian Williams for the week, earning A25-54 wins for the past 25 out of 27 weeks. The 11th Hour, however, continues to lead Fox @ Night in average total audience.

On Tuesday, Sept. 24th, FNC was the top-rated network for special coverage of the announcement by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of a formal impeachment inquiry into Pres. Trump. According to Nielsen Media Research, FNC garnered 3.3 million viewers and 551,000 in the 25-54 demographic from 5 – 5:15 p.m. ET.

Fox News and MSNBC split prime time on that Tuesday. Sean Hannity had the top cable news show in total viewers, while Rachel Maddow was No. 1 among adults 25-54.

Speaking of MSNBC, the NBCU cable news network finished the week as the third-most-watched basic cable network in prime time (behind FNC and a Monday Night Football-driven ESPN). MSNBC did finish ahead of ESPN in total day viewers.

The network carried the 2019 Global Citizen Festival on Saturday. Ratings for the festival were up from recent years, but still short of its cable news timeslot competitors.

CNN was the fourth-most-watched network on basic cable, earning a spot in the top five for the first time since its last Democratic primary debate back in late July/early August.

When compared with the same week in 2018, Fox News was -16% in total prime time viewers. MSNBC was -6% in total prime time viewers, while CNN was -5% in the same daypart. In total day, Fox was -24%, MSNBC was -8% and CNN was -15%.

It’s worth noting that the Judge Brett Kavanaugh hearings took place during the comparable week last year, which provided the cable news networks with huge ratings.

Cable News Week of Sept. 16 (Total Viewers)
Fox News: Prime Time (2,714,000) and Total Day (1,544,000)
MSNBC: Prime Time (1,989,000) and Total Day (1,179,000)
CNN: Prime Time (1,130,000) and Total Day (793,000)

Cable News Week of Sept. 16 (Adults 25-54)
Fox News: Prime Time (418,000) and Total Day (262,000)
MSNBC: Prime Time (351,000) and Total Day (188,000)
CNN: Prime Time (314,000) and Total Day (200,000)

Basic Cable Top Five (Prime Time)

  1. Fox News (2,714,000)
  2. ESPN (2,204,000)
  3. MSNBC (1,989,000)
  4. CNN (1,130,000)
  5. USA (992,000)

Basic Cable Top Five (Total Day)

  1. FNC (1,544,000)
  2. MSNBC (1,179,000)
  3. ESPN (831,000)
  4. CNN (793,000)
  5. Nickelodeon (629,000)

Source: Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, week of Sept. 23, 2019.

Basic cable ranker: Week of Sept. 23 (Total Viewers)