Fox News Is No. 1 Network for 2022 Election Night Coverage as Total Audience Falls From 2018

By A.J. Katz 

UPDATE: According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, roughly 25.4 million people watched primetime coverage of the 2022 Midterm Elections on Tuesday. This includes people watching across Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, CNNe, Fox Business, Newsmax and NewsNation. Streaming and CTV data is also included in the 25.4 million.


We’re a day removed from the 2022 Midterm Elections, and control of Congress has still yet to be decided. What has been decided, however, is that Fox News Channel is the top-rated network, broadcast or cable, on Election Night. FNC won not only in the common coverage period (primetime) but also from 6 p.m.-2 a.m. on Tuesday, November 8.


Fox News was expected to finish No. 1 in Total Viewers in both time periods. However, the network also ranked ahead of all competition among adults 25-54. FNC was the most-watched network during the 2018 Midterms as well, while CNN had been the go-to network among adults 25-54.

With coverage co-anchored by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, Fox averaged 7.42 million total primetime viewers and and 1.88 million A25-54, according to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data. While that’s a dominant performance and roughly four million more viewers than second-place MSNBC, it’s actually a -5% drop off in total viewers and a -21% drop off among adults 25-54 from 2018. But as you’ll see later, those losses are minor compared to what the competition experienced.

ABC and NBC split top honors among the broadcast networks. ABC averaged more total viewers than NBC (3.31 million vs. 3.11 million), whereas NBC averaged more A25-54 than ABC (1.06 million vs. 900,000). Both networks were down double digits year-over-year.

Relative to the 2018 primetime broadcast, ABC shed -37% in total viewers and -54% in A25-54. NBC shed -45% in total viewers and -54% in A25-54.

MSNBC was the third-most-watched network for ’22 midterms coverage and No. 5 among Adults 25-54. The network averaged 3.21 million total viewers (more than rival CNN for the first time on an election night ever), and 782,000 adults 25-54. That’s -28% in total viewers and -42% among A25-54 vs. 2018 for MSNBC.

CNN is No. 5 in total viewers, but actually was the second-most-watched network among Adults 25-54, out-performing rival MSNBC, as well as ABC, CBS and edging NBC News in primetime by just +1,000 viewers. CNN averaged 2.61 million total primetime viewers and 1.06 million A25-54, -49% and -59%,  respectively, relative to 2018; the steepest losses of any network.

CBS was the least-watched of the “big six” on election night, averaging 2.56 million total viewers and 701,000 A25-54 in primetime. The 2.56 million is -34% from 2018, while the 701,000 is -46% from 2018.

Fox Business averaged 629,000 total viewers and 229,000 adults 25-54.

All of the TV news outlets broadcasting the 2022 Midterms were down substantially from their respective performances in 2018. Fox News was down the least, likely due to Republicans having a better night in 2022 than in 2018. And with Americans increasingly turning to streaming news outlets over the past four years, a Nielsen linear ratings decline isn’t exactly shocking.

Additionally, according to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, 22.84 million total people were watching prime time coverage of the 2022 Midterm Elections across seven Nielsen-measured linear broadcast and cable networks. That’s down a little less than -30% from 2018. The aforementioned number doesn’t include viewership on ad-supported streaming platforms, a source of news for an increasing number of Americans, or PBS/C-SPAN/Spanish language broadcasters, etc.

2022 Midterm Election Common Coverage (Nielsen Live+SD data)

  • 8 – 11 pm ET: (Total Viewers | A25-54 demo)

Fox News: 7,422,000 / 1,879,000
ABC: 3,307,000 / 900,000
MSNBC: 3,210,000 / 782,000
NBC: 3,107,000 / 1,058,000
CNN: 2,608,000 / 1,059,000
CBS: 2,561,000 / 701,000
FBN: 629,000 / 229,000

The result was similar for the full coverage, with Fox News finishing as the No. 1 cable network in all audience measurements.

2022 Midterm Election Full Cable News Coverage (Nielsen Live+SD data)

  • 6 p.m. – 2 a.m. ET (Total Viewers | A25-54 demo)

FNC: 5,629,000 / 1,392,000
MSNBC: 2,664,000 / 481,000
CNN: 2,049,000 / 661,000