Fox News October Ratings: Lifted by Debates and Tucker Carlson, FNC Has Most-Watched Month in Cable History

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News Channel continues to set ratings records in 2020.

According to live-plus-same-day data from Nielsen, the network had its highest-rated September in network history last month, and will complete October having averaged the largest audience for a month in cable history, 4.9 million total viewers.

The network also delivered the second highest-rated total day viewership in the history of cable news (2.3 million viewers), coming only behind its own coverage of the Iraq War in April 2003.


In addition to setting network records, Fox News was the most-watched network on cable television, both in total day and in prime time

Carried by record-setting presidential and vice presidential debate coverage co-anchored by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, along with the Trump rallies, and Tucker Carlson‘s nonstop coverage of the Democratic challenger’s son Hunter Biden, Fox News was +35% in total prime time viewers, +24% in total day viewers, +59% in the prime time demo, and +36% in the total day demo vs. September 2020.

How did Fox News rate relative to October 2019, a month without an election and debates to cover? FNC was +83% in total prime time viewers, +139% in the prime time demo, +56% in total day viewers and +76% in the total day demo.

Compared with the same month prior to the most recent election (October 2016), Fox News was +60% in total prime time viewers, +46% in the prime time demo, +47% in total day viewers and +31% in the total day demo.

The ratings for Oct. 2020 (Nielsen Live + Same Day data):

  • Prime time (Mon-Sun): 4,905,000 total viewers / 971,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 2,281,000 total viewers / 428,000 A25-54

In terms of regularly scheduled programming, Tucker Carlson Tonight was the No. 1 show on cable news for October 2020, averaging 5.3 million total viewers and 1 million adults 25-54. The 5.3 million for October is a cable news monthly record.

Hannity came in second place across cable news, averaging 5.1 million viewers and 982,000 in the demo. Both programs averaged over 5 million viewers, a previously unheard of trend for a regularly-scheduled cable news program.

Lastly, Fox Business Network’s Business Day programming (9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. ET) delivered the network’s most-watched October ever across both total viewers (239,000) and the A25-54 demo (26,000). FBN also nabbed a record-high in Total Day viewers (178,000).