November ’21 Basic Cable Ranker: Fox News Marks 9 Consecutive Months at No. 1 in Total Day; ESPN Remains on Top in Primetime

By A.J. Katz 

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data for the month of November, Fox News Channel was the most-watched basic cable network in total day, averaging 1.54 million viewers across the 6 a.m.-6 a.m. daypart. That’s now nine straight months that FNC has finished as the most-watched network in that daypart. Fox News remained No. 2 in total primetime viewers in October (averaging 2.58 million). Who took first place in October? That would be ESPN, carried by its highly-rated broadcasts of Monday Night Football and NCAA college football and more recently, college basketball.

Compared to Oct. 2021, Fox News gained +12% in average total prime time audience and +22% in adults 25-54 during primetime (420,000). In total day, Fox gained +10% in average total viewers and +18% in adults 25-54 (264,000).

In fact, Nov. 2021 was the most-watched month of the year for Fox News, as the network was carried by live coverage and analysis of the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial and subsequent not-guilty verdict.


MSNBC was the fourth-most-watched network on basic cable for the second consecutive month, averaging 1.09 million total viewers during the month of November. The 1.09 million number 0s -9% from what the network averaged in October and represents the smallest average in the daypart since 2016. While MSNBC shed total viewers in primetime, the network actually held flat in the demo from the previous month (140,000). MSNBC was the No. 4 basic cable network in total day viewers as well (660,000). That’s -3% from what the network averaged in October. Similar to primetime, MSNBC held flat in adults 25-54 viewers watching in total day from the previous month (78,000).

CNN tumbled to No. 15 across basic cable in average total primetime viewers (654,000) but improved to No. 6 in total day viewers (495,000) for the month of November, after ranking No. 12 in primetime and No. 7 in total day the previous month. Relative to October, CNN shed -1% of its average total primetime audience, but grew by +9% in primetime demo viewers (148,000). The network grew +2% in total day viewers, and +7% in the total day demo (108,000) from October.

CNN beat MSNBC when it came to adults 25-54, both in total day and in primetime, while MSNBC beat CNN in average total viewers.

All three networks were down by double digits from Nov. 2020, as expected, with Fox News down the least.

ESPN, Fox News, Hallmark Channel, MSNBC, Paramount, HGTV, TBS, TLC, INSP and TNT were the 10-most-watched basic cable networks for November in primetime. Fox News, ESPN, Hallmark Channel, MSNBC, HGTV, CNN, Paramount, Food Network, INSP, Investigation Discovery were the 10-most-watched basic cable networks for November in total day (6 a.m.-6 a.m.).

Again, this is according to live-plus-same-day data. It’s worth noting that the majority of entertainment-focused cable networks judge their viewership based on time-shifted data. News and sports tend to be exceptions.

Below, the basic cable network rankers for Nov. 2021:

November ’21 (Total Viewers)