January 2019 Ratings: Fox News Marks 17 Straight Years as Most-Watched Cable News Network

By A.J. Katz 

When it comes to ratings, Fox News Channel remains the gold standard in cable news.

The network started 2019 as it ended 2018, as the most-watched basic cable network in total day viewers. The network averaged 1.33 million viewers from across the 6 a.m. – 6 a.m. daypart, marking 31 consecutive months as the most-watched basic cable network in total day.

The network also released a statement today celebrating 17 consecutive years as the most-watched cable news network. FNC first became No. 1 in total viewers at the end of the Nielsen month in January 2002.

Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott and Fox News president Jay Wallace released a joint statement touting the milestone:

“We are thrilled to kick off 2019 with a major milestone in marking 17 consecutive years as the number one cable news network due in no small part to our incredibly loyal audience. Our premiere team of journalists and opinion hosts continue to dominate the competition, proving once again they are the best in the business.”

In prime time, FNC was the second most-watched network in all of basic cable this month, with 2.2 million total viewers, only behind football-focused ESPN.

Fox News also continued to beat CNN and MSNBC in total viewers, and also in the A25-54 measurement. FNC averaged 382,000 A25-54 viewers in January, topping CNN’s 363,000 and MSNBC’s 349,000. In total day, averaged 244,000 ahead of CNN with 234,000 and MSNBC with 198,000.

But not all of the trends were positives. In fact, Fox News posted by far the most significant year-over-year ratings losses of cable news’ big three.

Despite finishing No. 1 in total day viewers, FNC was -11 percent vs. what it averaged in January 2018. The network was -10 percent in total prime time viewers. The declines were worse among younger viewers, -21 percent in the total day demo, and -20 percent in the prime time demo.

The ratings for January, 2019 (Nielsen Live + Same Day data):

  • Prime time (Mon-Sun):  2,205,000 total viewers / 382,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 1,329,000 total viewers / 244,000 A25-54

On the programming front – FNC accounted for 6 of the top 10 cable news programs in total viewers.  Hannity and Tucker Carlson Tonight were among the top three-cable news programs in both total viewers and in the 25-54 demo, finishing behind MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show (which we covered earlier)

Fox & Friends marked 207 months as the No. 1 cable news program in its timeslot, with an average of 1.4 million viewers and 279,000 with the 25-54 demo for January. Yet the program was down year-over-year.

America’s Newsroom delivered 1.6 million viewers and 261,000 with A25-54. At Noon, Outnumbered, garnered 1.6 million viewers and 266,000 in the 25-54 category. Outnumbered Overtime anchored by Harris Faulkner delivered 1.4 million viewers and 244,000 with A25-54 while The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino averaged 1.5 million viewers and 245,000 in the 25-54 demo.

During the 3 p.m. hour, FNC’s Shepard Smith Reporting averaged 1.3 million viewers and 211,000 with A25-54. Your World with Neil Cavuto at 4 p.m. ET, delivered 1.5 million viewers and averaged 249,000 with A25-54. Neither program was able to win its timeslot.

The Five garnered 2.6 million viewers and 405,000 in the demo. Special Report with Bret Baier averaged 2.3 million viewers and 377,000 in the 25-54 demo. Both shows won their respective timeslots across the board.

The Story with Martha MacCallum delivered 1.9 million total viewers and 341,000 A25-54 viewers in January. She finished No. 1 in the 7 p.m. timeslot among total viewers, but No. 2 in the 25-54 demo, behind CNN’s Erin Burnett.

The aforementioned Tucker Carlson dominated the 8 p.m. hour across the board. Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Shannon Bream finished No. 2 in their respective hours.

Briefly looking at the media criticism shows – Fox News’ MediaBuzz hosted by Howie Kurtz delivered 1.4 million total viewers and 270,000 in the 25-54 demo. That’s more than CNN’s Reliable Sources hosted by Brian Stelter, which averaged 967,000 total viewers and 232,000 A25-54 demo viewers.

Lastly, a quick look at Fox Business Network:

  • FBN delivered the top four business programs in total viewers for the month of January, with Lou Dobbs Tonight, Varney & Co, Trish Regan Prime Time, and Countdown to the Closing Bell with Liz Claman all leading the business news ranker in total viewers.
  • FBN’s market hour programs including Cavuto: Coast to Coast, Mornings with Maria, and Making Money with Charles Payne all ranked among the top 20 business programs for the month.

January 2019 (Nielsen live-plus-same-day data)

Business Day (Mon – Fri, 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET):

  • FBN: 198,000 total viewers / 21,000 A25-54
  • CNBC: 189,000 total viewers / 37,000 A25-54