Basic Cable Ranker: Week of Sept. 30

By A.J. Katz 

The Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings for the week of Sept. 30 are now in, and Fox News Channel remains the most-watched basic cable network in the 6 a.m.- 6 a.m. time period. That’s now 39 consecutive weeks at No. 1 in total day viewers.

The network finished second among all basic cable networks in prime time, behind only football-driven ESPN.

Hannity was the most-watched non-sports program on cable last week, also topping MLB’s AL and NLDS cable broadcasts in total viewers (but not in the demos).

Additionally, Fox & Friends had its best week of the year, averaging 1.6 million total viewers and 285,000 adults 25-54. That’s the show’s largest average audience since the week of the 2018 midterms.

Fox News’ prime time programs Hannity, Tucker Carlson Tonight and The Ingraham Angle delivered 10 of the 25 most-watched cable telecasts in total viewers for the week.

However, when compared with the same week in 2018, Fox News was -21% in total prime time viewers and -24% in total day viewers.

Fox News’ wall-to-wall coverage of the vote and confirmation of US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh that week in 2018 attracted massive audiences to the network, particularly that Saturday, and chances were remote the network would be able to match that performance this past week.

FNC wasn’t alone in its top finish among the basic cable landscape. As was true the previous week, MSNBC and CNN were also among the five-most-watched networks on basic cable for the week of Sept. 30.

MSNBC was the second-most-watched basic cable network last week across the 6 a.m. – 6 a.m. time period. Rachel Maddow had the top show on cable news for the second consecutive week among adults 25-54.

However, the network dropped to fourth in prime time, despite averaging more than two million viewers in the daypart. TBS’ coverage of the National League Division Series boosted the AT&T-owned outlet past MSNBC and into third place.

Both MSNBC and CNN benefited from impeachment inquiry coverage, at least relative to last year. MSNBC was +18% in total prime time viewers, and +19% in total day viewers this past week, while CNN was +5% in prime time and +5% in total viewers.

Cable News Week of Sept. 16 (Total Viewers)
Fox News: Prime Time (2,732,000) and Total Day (1,494,000)
MSNBC: Prime Time (2,097,000) and Total Day (1,215,000)
CNN: Prime Time (1,063,000) and Total Day (775,000)

Cable News Week of Sept. 16 (Adults 25-54)
Fox News: Prime Time (392,000) and Total Day (238,000)
MSNBC: Prime Time (349,000) and Total Day (194,000)
CNN: Prime Time (275,000) and Total Day (190,000)

You’ll notice an abundance of news and sports outlets in the rankings below:

Basic Cable Top Five (Prime Time)

  1. ESPN (2,932,000)
  2. Fox News (2,732,000)
  3. TBS (2,279,000)
  4. MSNBC (2,097,000)
  5. CNN (1,063,000)

Basic Cable Top Five (Total Day)

  1. FNC (1,494,000)
  2. MSNBC (1,215,000)
  3. ESPN (889,000)
  4. TBS (834,000)
  5. CNN (775,000)

Basic cable ranker: Week of Sept. 30 (Total Viewers)

Source: Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, week of Sept. 30, 2019.