Fox News Takes Back the Lead as Most-Watched Cable Network

By A.J. Katz 

One week after dropping to second, Fox News finished the week of Sept. 11 as No. 1 cable network in total day viewers. The Weather Channel ranked No. 1 for the week of Sept. 4 due to its wall-to-wall coverage of Hurricane Irma. TWC’s performance broke FNC’s 35-week streak as basic cable’s most-watched network.

And Fox News’s run as basic cable’s most-watched network in prime time ended this past week as ESPN took the lead, with the return on Monday Night Football. Fox News’s streak lasted 16 weeks.

Despite Fox News’s dominance, the network delivered year-over-year audience declines. The network was down -13 percent in prime time viewers, and down -4 percent in total day.

MSNBC finished No. 3 in prime time viewers, and No. 4 in total day viewers this past week. The network jumped +36 percent in prime time and was up +28 percent in total day vs. the same week in 2016.

CNN finished No. 10 in total prime time, and No. 7 in total day viewers this past week. The network posted +15 percent prime time audience growth, and +13 percent total day audience growth from last year.

While MSNBC beat CNN in total viewers once again, CNN managed to dominate its rival in the key A25-54 demographic, both in prime time as well as across total day.

Here’s a look at basic cable’s five-most-watched networks for the week of Sept. 11:

Basic Cable Top 5 – Prime Time (total viewers)

  1. ESPN (2,867,000)
  2. Fox News (2,111,000)
  3. MSNBC (1,625,000)
  4. USA (1,496,000)
  5. HGTV (1,366,000)

Basic Cable Top 5 – Total Day (total viewers)

  1. FNC (1,351,000)
  2. Nickelodeon (1,089,000)
  3. ESPN (1,016,000)
  4. MSNBC (842,000)
  5. Adult Swim (1,048,000)


Basic Cable Ranker: Week of Sept. 11 (Total Viewers)