Here Are the Top-Rated Cable News Shows for Q3 ’21

By A.J. Katz 

According to live-plus-same-day data from Nielsen, Fox News’ 8 p.m. offering Tucker Carlson Tonight was the No. 1 cable news show for the third quarter of 2021, not just in average total audience (3.24 million), but also among adults 25-54 (549,000). Cable television’s top-rated host for the second consecutive quarter hauled in an average of 2.9 million total viewers and 487,000 adults 25-54 per original broadcast in Q2, meaning the show improved by +11% in total viewers and +13% in the A25-54 demo from Q2.

The network’s 5 p.m. panel program The Five climbed to second place across cable news in total viewers, averaging 2.98 million per original broadcast. Fox’s late-afternoon panel show was No. 3 in total viewers for Q2, and No. 4 in Q1 of 2021. A solid leap. Hannity was the third-most-watched cable news show in Q3, averaging 2.94 million, and No. 2 among adults 25-54, averaging 478,000. After Tucker Carlson Tonight, The Five and Hannity, came The Ingraham Angle and MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show rounding out the top five in total viewers. MSNBC’s powerhouse program was the most-watched show on cable news in Q1. That wasn’t the case in Q2 (No. 4) or Q3 (No. 5).

Gutfeld! (No.8) was also among cable news’ 10-most-watched shows for the quarter. The network’s late-night show finished No. 9 in average total viewers the prior quarter. In fact, 13 of the 15-most-watched shows on cable news aired on Fox News, including nine of the top 10. In Q2, seven of the top 10 in average total viewers were Fox News shows. The other three aired on MSNBC.


Finally, each of the below-mentioned Fox News shows posted total audience growth from Q2 (but were down from Q3 2020). The Rachel Maddow Show was the only top 10 entry to see viewer decline from Q2.

Here’s the top 10 in average total viewers for Q3 ’21, as per live-plus-same-day data.

  1. Fox News/8 p.m. / Tucker Carlson Tonight: 3,242,000/ 55 telecasts
  2. Fox News/5 p.m./The Five: 2,976,000 / 65 telecasts
  3. Fox News/9 p.m./Hannity: 2,936,000 / 55 telecasts
  4. Fox News / 10 p.m./The Ingraham Angle: 2,348,000 / 54 telecasts
  5. MSNBC / 9 p.m./The Rachel Maddow Show: 2,204,000 / 61 telecasts
  6. Fox News/6 p.m./Special Report with Bret Baier: 2,123,000 / 63 telecasts
  7. Fox News/7 p.m./Fox News Primetime: 1,922,000 / 63 telecasts
  8. Fox News/11 p.m./Gutfeld!: 1,695,000 / 60 telecasts
  9. Fox News/12 p.m./Outnumbered: 1,618,000 / 62 telecasts
  10. Fox News/9-10 a.m. and 10-11 a.m. / America’s Newsroom: 1,532,000 / 125 telecasts

Q3 ’21 (Total Viewers)

How about the top cable news shows among adults 25-54? After all, this is a demographic that advertisers of news often focus their millions on.

Tucker Carlson Tonight, which finished No. 3 in the demo in Q1, finished No. 1 for the second consecutive quarter, averaging 549,000 from the measurement for each original broadcast (+13% from Q2).

The top three cable news shows for Q3 in total viewers (Tucker Carlson Tonight,  The Five and Hannity) were also the top three in the key A25-54 demo. However, Hannity finished ahead of The Five in the key demo. The opposite was true when it came to average total viewers.

The Rachel Maddow Show moved from No. 5 in the demo in Q2, to No. 8 in Q3. TRMS was the only non-Fox show to finish in the cable news top 10 among adults 25-54.

While unable to place any of its programs in the top 10 among average total viewers, CNN placed two shows in the top 20 for the quarter among adults 25-54: Anderson Cooper 360 (No. 15 after finishing No. 9 in Q2). Cuomo Primetime finished at No. 17 among adults 25-54 in Q3. CNN’s 9 p.m. offering was the top-rated cable news show among adults 25-54 in Q1, but tumbled to No. 10 in Q2 and No. 17 in Q3.

In short, Fox News had a good quarter relative to its cable news counterparts.

As you’ll see, Fox News dominates the top 10 among adults 25-54 in Q2. CNN dominated this top 10 in Q1.

  1. Fox News/8 p.m. / Tucker Carlson Tonight: 549,000 / 55 telecasts
  2. Fox News/9 p.m./Hannity: 478,000 /55 telecasts
  3. Fox News/5 p.m./The Five: 434,000 /65 telecasts
  4. Fox News/10 p.m./The Ingraham Angle: 400,000 /54 telecasts
  5. Fox News/6 p.m./Special Report with Bret Baier: 335,000 / 63 telecasts
  6. Fox News/11 p.m./Gutfeld!: 320,000 / 60 telecasts
  7. Fox News/7 p.m./Fox News Primetime: 319,000 / 63 telecasts
  8. MSNBC/9 p.m./The Rachel Maddow Show: 285,000 / 61 telecasts
  9. Fox News/12 p.m./Outnumbered: 260,000 / 62 telecasts
  10. Fox News/ 4 p.m./Your World with Neil Cavuto: 255,000/62 telecasts

Q3 ’21 (Adults 25-54)