Tucker Carlson is arguably the most polarizing personality on cable news. But the folks who love his show watch it religiously, and the proof is in the ratings.
Tucker Carlson Tonight averaged 5.3 million total viewers in October, the largest average audience for a cable news program in the history of the genre. His show also averaged 1 million adults 25-54.
TCT has been putting out massive numbers in recent months, but a number of factors led to October being a record-setting month. First, his program led into Fox News’ record-setting presidential and vice presidential debate coverage, which had not been the case in 2016. Second, discussion about the Democratic challenger’s son Hunter Biden and his business dealings has gained lots of traction in conservative media. Carlson has talked about the younger Biden as much if not more than any other host on cable news, and that attracts conservatives and Trump supporters. A number of Trump rallies air during prime time, and that helps Carlson’s 8 p.m. hour. And of course, we’re approaching an election, where attention on politics on television is as strong as it gets.
Hannity had a pretty great ratings month in his own right. His program and Carlson’s tend to go back and forth between No. 1 and No. 2 on cable news each day, week, month and, most recently, year. Hannity had the No. 2 show on cable news in October, averaging 5.1 million total viewers and 982,000 adults 25-54.
The four-most-watched cable news shows in October aired on Fox News. After Carlson and Hannity, The Five was the third-most-watched cable news show for October (4.1 million), followed by The Ingraham Angle (4.07 million—her largest monthly audience ever).
MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show ranked No. 5 in total viewers (3.7 million), followed by FNC’s Special Report with Bret Baier (3.46 million), The Story with Martha MacCallum (3.2 million), The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell (2.9 million), The 11th Hour with Brian Williams (2.6 million) and All In With Chris Hayes (2.4 million).
That’s six shows on Fox News and four on MSNBC in the 10-most-watched for October.
Cuomo Prime Time was CNN’s most-watched show for October, averaging 2.2 million viewers in the 9 p.m. hour. That’s good for No. 16 on cable news.
Below, the full cable news ranker for October, sorted by largest average audience:
Carlson and Hannity were the two-most-watched cable news shows for October among adults 25-54. The Ingraham Angle (760,000) moved past The Five (673,000) and into third place across cable news in A25-54. The Story with Martha MacCallum edged The Rachel Maddow Show in the demo (625,000 versus 619,000), followed by Special Report (604,000), Cuomo Prime Time (588,000), Anderson Cooper 360 (545,000) and Erin Burnett Outfront (541,000).
That’s six Fox News shows placing in the A25-54 top 10 for October, three CNN programs and one MSNBC show.
Fox News was No. 1 on cable news for the overwhelming majority of hours of the 24-hour day, both in total viewers and adults 25-54 this month. However, Brian Williams gave MSNBC an across the board win in the 11 p.m. hour, beating CNN Tonight with Don Lemon and Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream in total viewers and among adults 25-54.