Fox News, MSNBC and CNN Were Among the Top 4 Basic Cable Networks for January

By A.J. Katz 

Kicking off 2019, Fox News Channel was the most-watched basic cable network in total day, marking 31 consecutive months at the top of the heap in that daypart.

As was true in January 2018, Fox News was also the second-most-watched basic cable network in prime time, only behind ESPN, which received a nice boost early in the month via the CFP National Championship game.

Despite the impressive rankings, FNC posted a significant year-over-year audience dropoff to kick off the year. In Jan. 2019, FNC was -10 percent in prime time viewers, and -11 percent in total day viewers vs. what it delivered in Jan. 2018.

MSNBC and CNN posted year-over-year growth, in addition to their top 5 finishes. MSNBC, No. 3 across basic cable in prime time viewers, was +6 percent vs. January 2018. The network finished No. 2 in total day viewers, behind Fox News, yet delivered +14 percent year-over-year growth in that daypart.

CNN had a strong month in its own right. The network shot up to No. 6 across basic cable in total prime time viewers, posting +31 percent prime time audience growth vs. the prior January in the process. CNN was the fourth-most-watched basic cable network for January across the total day, and was +15 percent in total day viewers vs. Jan. 2018.

The most impressive year-over-year total audience growth out of the top basic cablers was Hallmark Channel, which posted +45 percent growth in prime time audience, and +27 percent growth in total day audience. All of the other highly-rated cable entertainment and sports networks were down vs. what they hauled in the prior January.

Below is a look at the basic cable top 10 for January, followed by an expanded basic cable network ranker sorted by Total Viewers.

All data is Nielsen live-plus-same-day.

Basic Cable Top 10 (Prime Time)

  1. ESPN (2,558,000)
  2. Fox News (2,205,000)
  3. MSNBC (1,977,000)
  4. Hallmark (1,331,000)
  5. HGTV (1,303,000)
  6. CNN (1,214,000)
  7. USA (1,154,000)
  8. History (1,123,000)
  9. ID (1,108,000)
  10. Discovery (1,069,000)

Basic Cable Top 10 (Total Day)

  1. Fox News (1,329,000)
  2. MSNBC (1,138,000)
  3. ESPN (1,058,000)
  4. CNN (821,000)
  5. Nickelodeon (812,000)
  6. HGTV (770,000)
  7. ID (769,000)
  8. Hallmark (745,000)
  9. USA (615,000)
  10. Food Network (604,000)

Basic cable network ranker: January 2019 (Total Viewers)