Cable Network Ranker: Week of Sept. 26

By A.J. Katz 

It was a huge ratings week for the cable news networks due to their respective telecasts of the first presidential debate. Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC were all top 5 cable networks for the week in prime time viewers, per Nielsen Media Research. Fox News was the No. 1 both in prime time and total day. CNN was the No. 2 cable network of the week in its target demo of adults 25-54 (behind only ESPN).

Fox News’ telecast of the debate was also the most-watched program on cable TV for the week, and was up 9 percent in viewers and up 20 percent in the demo compared to the first general election presidential debate during the 2012 cycle. FNC delivered 8 of the 20-most-watched cable programs of the week, highlighted by The Kelly File which delivered its second best week of the year in both total viewers and the A25-54 demo. The network grew 65 percent in total prime time viewers, and 29 percent in total day viewers from the comparable week in 2015.

CNN grew a whopping 248 percent in prime time compared to the same week in 2015, while MSNBC grew 141 percent.

HLN ranked No. 45 in prime time, and No. 34 in total day; CNBC ranked No. 46 in prime time and No. 55 in total day; and Fox Business ranked No. 70 in prime time and No. 64 in total day.

Week of Sept. 26 – Oct. 2

Top 5 – Prime time (P2+)

  1. Fox News (3,204,000)
  2. ESPN (2,249,000)
  3. CNN (1,999,000)
  4. MSNBC (1,612,000)
  5. USA (1,393,000)

Top 5 – Total Day (P2+)

  1. Fox News (1,472,000)
  2. Nickelodeon (1,086,000)
  3. CNN (922,000)
  4. Adult Swim (866,000)
  5. ESPN (845,000)


Cable Network Ranker: Week of Sept. 26 (Total Viewers)

(Credit: @megynkelly)