Fox News Is Cable’s Most-Watched Network in Total Day; Hannity Is No. 1 on Cable News

By A.J. Katz 

It was a significant week for Fox News. Not only was it the No. 1 basic cable network in total day, but it showed off a revamped prime time lineup, with Sean Hannity assuming the network’s 9 p.m. slot. Hannity, with help from some high-profile guests, got off to a very strong start. He defeated new time slot rival Rachel Maddow both in total viewers and the key news demo, en route to becoming cable news’s No. 1 show of the week.

Fox News was the second-most-watched basic cable network in prime time, finishing behind ESPN and its NFL-heavy lineup. Fox News posted a -29 percent decline in total prime time audience versus the same week last year. Why such a large year-over-year decline? The first presidential debate happened to take place in prime time that week.

CNN delivered a top 10 finish in total viewers this past week, both prime time (No. 7) and total day (No. 6). Similar to Fox News, CNN also posted double-digit prime time audience declines versus the same week last year, due to the debate.

MSNBC finished No. 3 across basic cable in prime time, and No. 4 in total day. Unlike its cable news rivals, MSNBC did not experience a year-over-year audience drop off. The network was actually +4 percent in prime time and +12 percent in total day versus the same week last year.

Here’s a look at basic cable’s five-most-watched networks for the week of Sept. 25:

Basic Cable Top 5 – Prime Time (total viewers)

  1. ESPN (3,142,000)
  2. Fox News (2,290,000)
  3. MSNBC (1,676,000)
  4. USA (1,364,000)
  5. HGTV (1,160,000)

Basic Cable Top 5 – Total Day (total viewers

  1. Fox News (1,351,000)
  2. ESPN (1,038,000)
  3. Nickelodeon (979,000)
  4. MSNBC (921,000)
  5. Adult Swim (738,000)

Elsewhere in the cable news landscape, CNBC was a top 40 basic cable network in prime time this past week. The network posted +9 percent prime time viewer growth, and +1 percent total day viewer growth versus the same week last year.

Fox Business Network continues to lead CNBC in total Business Day viewers, and it won the category this past week: 192,000 to 150,000.

That said, FBN fell short to CNBC in total day, in prime time and in the Business Day demo.

HLN struggled relative to last year. The network was -20 percent in prime time viewers, and -8 percent in total day viewers.

Basic Cable Network Ranker: Week of Sept. 25 (Total Viewers)