Even With NCAA Basketball, Fox News and MSNBC Remain Most-Watched Cable Networks

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News continues to deliver the largest audience in all of cable television.

FNC won the week of March 12th in total viewers, both prime time and total day. This victory is notable considering TBS, TNT, and TruTV aired NCAA tournament games across multiple dayparts. Each of the three aforementioned Turner networks managed to defeat Fox News in the key A25-54 demo and among younger demos.

With yet another weekly win, Fox News has ranked No. 1 in total day viewers for 10 consecutive weeks, No. 1 total prime time viewers for 9 consecutive weeks, and once again ranked in the top 5 among adults 25-54 in total day. (No. 8 across cable in the prime time demo).

Fox News boasts 10 of the 30 most-watched cable telecasts of the past week, and also defeated its cable news rivals in the key measurements across multiple dayparts.

But compared to the same week last year, where the network also faced competition from March Madness programming on cable, Fox News was down -7 percent in prime time viewers, and down -4 percent in total day.

MSNBC remains in second place in total viewers, both prime time and in total day. The network posted +14 percent prime time viewer growth, +15 percent total day viewer growth versus the same week in 2017, and defeated CNN in the prime time demo.

Despite a No. 3 finish in prime time, CNN still had a relatively strong week. It earned a top 10 finish in total prime time viewers, and posted +4 percent year-over-year growth in the daypart.

The network was slightly down in total day viewers, -2 percent year-over-year, but defeated rival MSNBC in A25-54 across total day.

Here are the top 5 basic cable networks for the week of March 12:

Basic Cable Top 5 – Prime time (P2+)

  1. Fox News (2,370,000)
  2. MSNBC (2,027,000)
  3. TBS (1,755,000)
  4. TNT (1,695,000)
  5. HGTV (1,469,000)

Basic Cable Top 5 – Prime time (A25-54)

  1. TBS (838,000)
  2. TNT (793,000)
  3. TruTV (681,000)
  4. USA (603,000)
  5. AMC (505,000)

Basic Cable Top 5 – Total Day (P2+)

  1. Fox News (1,384,000)
  2. MSNBC (1,107,000)
  3. Nickelodeon (952,000)
  4. TNT (791,000)
  5. HGTV (789,000)

Basic Cable Top 5 – Total Day (A25-54)

  1. TBS (369,000)
  2. TNT (353,000)
  3. Investigation Discovery (324,000)
  4. USA (283,000)
  5. Fox News (276,000)

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, FBN swept a week across business day (M-F, 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET) and market hours (9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. ET) for the third time in 2018.

Lou Dobbs Tonight and Varney & Co. continued as the two-most-watched business news programs. FBN also notched 7 of the top 10 business news shows in total viewers, including Dobbs, Varney, Cavuto Coast to Coast, Countdown to the Closing Bell with Liz Claman, and The Intelligence Report with Trish Regan.

Business Day (M-F, 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET):

FBN: 226,000 total viewers / 31,000 A25-54

CNBC: 182,000 total viewers / 26,000 A25-54

Market Hours (9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. ET)

FBN: 232,000 total viewers / 33,000 A25-54

CNBC: 186,000 total viewers / 27,000 A25-54

Finally, the duo of basic cable network rankers, sorted by total viewers and adults 25-54, respectively:

Basic Cable Ranker: Week of March 12 (Total Viewers)

Basic Cable Ranker: Week of March 12 (A25-54)