Q2 2020 Cable News Ranker: Fox News Has Top 6 Shows in Total Viewers; CNN Places 4 Shows in the Adults 25-54 Top 10

By A.J. Katz 

For Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, the second quarter of 2020 was one for the record books. A number of programs on each network delivered their largest average audiences ever, including Fox News’ programming, whose evening and prime-time shows set network records.

Tucker Carlson Tonight led the charge, averaging a whopping 4.33 million total viewers in Q2 2020, per live-plus-same-day data from Nielsen. That is the largest average audience for a quarter in cable news history.

Hannity followed right behind, averaging 4.31 million viewers. The Five was the third-most-watched cable news program of the quarter, followed by Special Report with Bret Baier and The Ingraham Angle.


The Rachel Maddow Show finished No. 6 in Total Viewers for the second consecutive quarter.

Fox News was home to eight of the 10-most-watched cable news programs of the quarter, with MSNBC earning the other two spots (The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell came in at No. 8). Fox News was home to 13 of the top 20 cable news shows in Total Viewers. MSNBC had 5 and CNN had 2.

As we mentioned in an earlier post, Cuomo Prime Time had a record-setting quarter for CNN. It was CNN’s No. 1 program in all relevant categories, including in Total Viewers (1.99 million), and ranked No. 17 on cable news.

Lastly, Fox News was the most-watched cable network for Q2, each hour from 4 p.m.-midnight.

Sorted by Total Viewers:

Q2 2020 Cable News Ranker (Total Viewers)

Fox News had the top six shows on cable news for the quarter among Adults 25-54, while CNN took up spots 7-10. Tucker Carlson Tonight was No. 1 (791,000), followed by Hannity, Special Report, The Five, The Ingraham Angle and The Story with Martha MacCallum.

The aforementioned Cuomo Prime Time ranked No. 7 on cable news in the demo, followed by Anderson Cooper 360, CNN Tonight with Don Lemon and Erin Burnett Outfront.

CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper was the top cable news show at 4 p.m. in the demo. Fox News went on to win every other hour, 5 p.m.-midnight, across the board.

The Rachel Maddow Show was MSNBC’s top program for the quarter, per usual. But, surprisingly, the show finished No. 11 on cable news in the demo, -5% from Q1 2020 (515,000 versus 487,000). Can’t recall the last time the MSNBC powerhouse finished a quarter behind four CNN shows.

MSNBC did not have another show in the cable news top 20 among adults 25-54. The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell came in at No. 23.

Q2 2020 Cable News Ranker (Adults 25-54)