November 2020 Cable Network Ranker: Fox News Is No. 1 in Total Viewers, CNN Is No. 1 in the Total Day Demo

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News Channel was the most-watched basic cable network for the month of November 2020, both in prime time (3.94 million viewers on average) and across the 24-hour day (1.94 million viewers on average).

This is according to live-plus-same-day data from Nielsen.

Finishing directly behind FNC in the basic cable ratings rankings were its cable news competitors, something one might expect during an election month (although that’s really been the case for much of 2020).


CNN averaged an impressive 2.8 million viewers in prime time and 1.8 million in total day, while MSNBC brought in 2.7 million in prime time and 1.6 million in total day.

No other cable network averaged more than 1 million viewers in total day.

CNN was also the No. 1 basic cable network across the 24-hour day among adults 25-54 (558,000), and set a network viewership record in November. In fact, CNN was the most-watched cable news network from Nov. 4-Nov. 30.

November 2020 proved MSNBC’s most-watched month ever in total day, while Fox News had its most-watched November in prime time.

Continuing with the cable network rankings— ESPN finished No. 4 behind MSNBC in prime time, followed by Hallmark Channel, HGTV, TBS, TLC, Food Network and Discovery.

In terms of viewership across the 24-hour daypart, Hallmark finished behind MSNBC, followed by ESPN, HGTV, Food Network, Investigation Discovery, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries (it’s holiday time, after all!), and USA.

• Total Viewers: 3,941,000 2,804,000 2,661,000
• A25-54: 827,000 948,000 536,000




• Total Viewers: 1,941,000 1,783,000 1,590,000
• A25-54: 413,000 558,000 302,000




Nov. 2020 Basic Cable Network Ranker (Total Viewers)


Week of Nov. 23:

Highlighted by the Thanksgiving holiday, along with continued election and Covid-19 pandemic news, CNN was the No. 1 cable news network in the key A25-54 demo for the 4th consecutive week, and the most-watched cable news network across the 24-hour day.

Fox News once again averaged the largest total audience on cable news in prime time, but CNN actually ahead of Fox News in total viewers across the 24-hour day for the first time since the week of Nov. 9.

CNN’s average adults 25-54 viewer count was 378,000 in prime time and 273,000 in the 24-hour day (6 a.m.-6 a.m.), down double digits from the previous week. However, its year-over-year trend remains strong.

CNN remained No. 2 across basic cable in total day viewers (only behind holiday movie-driven Hallmark Channel), and the 5th-most-watched basic cable network of the week in prime time.

Fox News Channel was the 3rd- most-watched cable network for Thanksgiving week, both in prime time (2 million), and in total day (1.1 million).

That’s extremely rare. Could be a blip, but maybe not.

Fox News still finished ahead of MSNBC in the key measurements and dayparts (albeit barely).

MSNBC finished in third place on cable news, and ranked 4th in average total viewers on basic cable.

All three cable news networks posted double digit percent viewership losses during the holiday week from the previous week.

ESPN was the No. 2 basic cable network last week in total prime time viewers, but moved up to No. 1 during a sports-filled Thanksgiving week. Hallmark Channel moved up to No. 1 in total viewers across the 24-hour day.

Basic Cable Top 5 – Prime Time (Total Viewers)
1. ESPN (3,085,000)
2. Hallmark Channel (2,530,000)
3. Fox News (2,049,000)
4. MSNBC (1,635,000)
5. CNN (1,430,000)

Basic Cable Top 5 – Total Day (Total Viewers)
1. Hallmark Channel (1,115,000)
2. CNN (1,114,000)
3. Fox News (1,095,000)
4. MSNBC (1,085,000)
5. ESPN (936,000)

• Total Viewers: 2,049,000 1,430,000 1,635,000
• A25-54: 289,000 378,000 253,000




• Total Viewers: 1,095,000 1,114,000 1,085,000
• A25-54: 169,000 273,000 168,000