Q4 ’21 Cable Ranker: The Five Leads Fox News to Another No. 1 Ranking in Total Day Viewers

By A.J. Katz 

New quarter, same result: Fox News Channel was the most-watched basic cable network in the 24-hour daypart for the final quarter of 2021.

According to live-plus-same-day data from Nielsen, FNC averaged 1.44 million total viewers across the 24-hour day time period (total day). That’s +6% from Q3 2021, and -21% from Q4 of ’20. Fox News also averaged 2.37 million total viewers in primetime, No. 2 on basic cable (behind ESPN, which averaged 2.63 million). Fox’s 2.37 million average is less than -1% from Q3 ’21 and -37% from Q4 of ’20, which was a highly-rated quarter featuring a presidential election.

FNC also averaged 366,000 adults 25-54 in primetime in Q4 ’21, No. 3 on basic cable (behind ESPN and TBS). The network fell -3% from Q3 ’21 and -50% from Q4 ’20. Additionally, Fox averaged 237,000 adults 25-54 in total day in Q4 ’21, which is +4% from what the network posted in Q3 ’21 and -32% from Q4 ’20. Fox News was ranked No. 2 in total day adults 25-54 in Q4 ’21 (behind ESPN).

Elsewhere in the cable news universe, MSNBC averaged 672,000 total viewers across the 24-hour day time period (No. 4 on basic cable). That’s a -9% drop from Q3 ’21 and -53% from Q4 of ’20. The NBCU cable newser was No. 5 in total primetime viewers this past quarter, averaging 1.16 million. That’s -8 from Q3 ’21, and -53% from Q4 of ’20, which was a huge quarter for the network that featured a presidential election campaign.

MSNBC averaged 138,000 adults 25-54 in primetime, which is -14% from Q3 ’21, and -69% from Q4 ’20. It was tied with CNN as the No. 27 basic cable network in Q4 ’21 in the measurement. Additionally, MSNBC averaged just 77,000 adults 25-54 in total day in Q4 ’21, which is -18% from what the network averaged in the daypart in Q3 ’21, and -69% from Q4 ’20. MSNBC was ranked No. 28 in total day adults 25-54 in Q4 ’21.

CNN saw more declines than its cable news counterparts. The network averaged 492,000 total viewers across the 24-hour day time period (total day) in Q4 ’21, which places it at No. 6 on basic cable. The 492,000 is -18% from what the network averaged in Q3 ’21 and -67% from the Q4 of ’20. CNN also averaged 642,000 total viewers in primetime, placing it at No. 16. The 642,000 average is -22% from Q3 ’21, and -73% from Q4 of ’20, which had been a phenomenal quarter for the network featuring a presidential election campaign.

Like MSNBC, CNN also averaged 138,000 adults 25-54 in primetime in Q4 ’21. That’s -27% from Q3 ’21, and -81% from Q4 ’20. It was the No. 27 on basic cable in the measurement. Additionally, CNN averaged 103,000 adults 25-54 in total day in Q4 ’21, which is -21% from what the network averaged in the daypart in Q3 ’21 and -75% from Q4 ’20. It was ranked No. 19 in total day adults 25-54 in Q4 ’21.

CNN and MSNBC lost viewers as 2021 continued. That wasn’t true for Fox News, which continues to attract more viewers, especially in total day, as the new administration settles in. Fox News also averaged more total viewers in Q4 than CNN and MSNBC combined.

On the programming front, Fox News’ The Five was the most-watched cable news show of the fourth quarter, averaging 3.2 million total viewers in the 5 p.m. hour. This represents the first non-primetime program has placed No. 1  in average total viewers for a full quarter. The panel program ranked No. 2 on cable news in the key A25-54 demo behind Tucker Carlson Tonight. TCT was the second-most-watched show on cable news, followed by Hannity Special Report with Bret Baier and The Ingraham Angle rounding out the top 5.

Q4 2021 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):

TOTAL DAY Fox News MSNBC CNN
• Total Viewers: 1,444,000 672,000 492,000
• A25-54: 237,000 77,000 103,000

 

 

 

PRIME Fox News MSNBC CNN
• Total Viewers: 2,366,000 1,163,000 642,000
• A25-54: 366,000 138,000 138,000

 

 

 

Below, the basic cable network rankers for Q4, 2021. The first one is sorted by average total viewers, largest to smallest audience. The second is sorted by adults 25-54, largest to smallest audience.

Q4 2021
Program Based Dayparts, LIVE+SD, ranked on P2+
M-Su 08:00PM-11:00PM M-Su 06:00AM-06:00AM
Rank Net P2+(000) Rank Net P2+ (000)
1 ESPN 2,628 1 FOX NEWS CHANNEL 1,444
2 FOX NEWS CHANNEL 2,366 2 ESPN 859
3 TBS NETWORK 1,300 3 HALLMARK CHANNEL 738
4 HALLMARK CHANNEL 1,296 4 MSNBC 672
5 MSNBC 1,163 5 HOME AND GARDEN TV 522
6 HOME AND GARDEN TV 897 6 CNN 492
7 TLC 815 7 TBS NETWORK 485
8 NFL NETWORK 808 8 INSP 440
9 INSP 766 9 FOOD NETWORK 438
10 FOOD NETWORK 710 10 INVESTIGATION DISCOVERY 428
10 PARAMOUNT 710 11 TV LAND 376
12 TURNER NETWORK TELEVISION 709 12 HALLMARK MOVIES & MYSTERIES 368
13 DISCOVERY CHANNEL 682 13 USA NETWORK 358
14 HISTORY 651 14 TURNER NETWORK TELEVISION 357
14 USA NETWORK 651 15 HISTORY 354
16 CNN 642 16 LIFETIME TELEVISION 339
17 FREEFORM 619 17 PARAMOUNT 338
18 LIFETIME TELEVISION 571 18 FREEFORM 322
19 HALLMARK MOVIES & MYSTERIES 569 19 NICKELODEON 316
20 INVESTIGATION DISCOVERY 546 20 TLC 306
21 BRAVO 504 21 A&E NETWORK 298
22 TV LAND 490 22 GSN 294
23 AMC 479 23 DISCOVERY CHANNEL 288
24 FOX SPORTS 1 475 24 WETV 262
25 A&E NETWORK 474 25 NFL NETWORK 251
26 ESPN2 448 26 AMC 249
27 FX 438 27 FX 237
28 WETV 416 28 OXYGEN MEDIA 214
29 GSN 369 29 HLN 205
30 SYFY 355 30 SYFY 196
31 BLACK ENTERTAINMENT TV 339 31 DISNEY CHANNEL 191
32 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC 331 32 COMEDY CENTRAL 190
33 ANIMAL PLANET 304 33 BRAVO 189
34 TRAVEL CHANNEL 291 34 ANIMAL PLANET 185
35 NICK-AT-NITE 289 34 BLACK ENTERTAINMENT TV 185
36 OXYGEN MEDIA 275 34 MTV 185
37 ADULT SWIM 270 37 DISNEY JUNIOR 184
37 COMEDY CENTRAL 270 37 TRAVEL CHANNEL 184
39 MTV 256 39 ESPN2 183
40 E! 237 40 FOX SPORTS 1 173
41 CMT 227 41 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC 170
42 FXX 226 42 NICK JR 157
43 LIFETIME MOVIE NETWORK 223 43 LIFETIME MOVIE NETWORK 150
44 DISNEY JUNIOR 217 43 SUNDANCE TV 150
45 SUNDANCE TV 211 45 CMT 145
46 FETV 209 46 E! 141
47 HLN 208 47 CNBC 140
48 DISNEY CHANNEL 206 48 FXX 128
49 OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK 202 49 NAT GEO WILD 125
50 IFC TV 189 49 OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK 125
50 VH1 189 51 VH1 124
52 SCIENCE 187 52 NEWSMAX TV 121
53 BBC-AMERICA 180 53 SCIENCE 120
54 NICK JR 179 54 THE CARTOON NETWORK 118
55 NAT GEO WILD 177 55 MOTOR TREND 117
56 MOTOR TREND 176 56 FETV 116
57 CNBC 169 57 THE WEATHER CHANNEL 111
57 THE CARTOON NETWORK 169 58 POP 109
59 HBO PRIME 163 59 BBC-AMERICA 103
60 NEWSMAX TV 155 60 FOX BUSINESS NETWORK 97
61 TUDN 152 61 TRUTV 96
62 TRUTV 143 62 IFC TV 92
63 DIY NETWORK 140 63 DIY NETWORK 91
64 POP 133 64 NEWSNATION 87
65 THE WEATHER CHANNEL 127 65 UP 84
66 UP 120 66 HBO PRIME 77
67 REELZCHANNEL 111 67 NBC SPORTS NETWORK 73
68 COOKING CHANNEL 105 68 HALLMARK DRAMA 71
69 TV ONE 99 69 COOKING CHANNEL 69
70 SHOWTIME PRIME 97 69 REELZCHANNEL 69
71 NBA-TV 96 71 TV ONE 67
72 FX MOVIE CHANNEL 91 72 FX MOVIE CHANNEL 64
72 SMITHSONIAN 91 72 NICKTOONS 64
74 HALLMARK DRAMA 90 74 SMITHSONIAN 63
75 GALAVISION 88 75 BOOMERANG 52
75 NBC SPORTS NETWORK 88 76 DISNEY XD 50
77 BIG TEN NETWORK 84 77 GOLF CHANNEL 49
78 ESPNU 78 78 SHOWTIME PRIME 48
79 STARZ PRIMARY 72 79 FYI 47
80 FYI 70 79 TUDN 47
80 VICE 70 81 AMERICAN HEROES CHANNEL 44
82 MLB NETWORK 67 81 OVATION 44
83 NICKTOONS 66 83 BIG TEN NETWORK 41
84 BOOMERANG 65 83 VICE 41
85 DISNEY XD 62 85 MLB NETWORK 40
85 RFD-TV 62 86 GAC FAMILY 37
87 FOX DEPORTES 61 86 STARZ PRIMARY 37
88 DISCOVERY EN ESPANOL 60 88 MTV2 35
88 UNIVERSO 60 88 NBA-TV 35
90 AMERICAN HEROES CHANNEL 57 88 STARZ ENCORE PRIMARY 35
91 OVATION 55 88 TEENNICK 35
92 STARZ ENCORE PRIMARY 52 92 ESPNU 34
93 GAC FAMILY 51 92 GALAVISION 34
93 GOLF CHANNEL 51 92 LOGO 34
95 FOX BUSINESS NETWORK 50 95 DESTINATION AMERICA 33
95 MTV2 50 96 UNIVERSAL KIDS 32
97 DESTINATION AMERICA 47 96 UNIVERSO 32
98 DISCOVERY FAMILY CHANNEL 41 98 DISCOVERY EN ESPANOL 28
99 LOGO 40 99 BET HER 21
99 NEWSNATION 40 99 DISCOVERY LIFE CHANNEL 21
101 BET HER 38 99 RFD-TV 21
102 AXS TV 37 102 BABY FIRST TV 20
103 DISCOVERY LIFE CHANNEL 35 103 DISCOVERY FAMILY CHANNEL 19
104 TEENNICK 31 103 TENNIS CHANNEL 19
105 DISCOVERY FAMILIA 30 105 FOX DEPORTES 18
106 THE COWBOY CHANNEL 28 106 MAXPRIME 17
107 TENNIS CHANNEL 26 107 AXS TV 16
107 UNIVERSAL KIDS 26 108 DISCOVERY FAMILIA 13
109 MAXPRIME 25 109 ESPN DEPORTES 11
110 BABY FIRST TV 24 109 FOX SPORTS 2 11
110 ESPN DEPORTES 24 111 THE COWBOY CHANNEL 9
112 FOX SPORTS 2 16 112 FUSE 8
113 JUSTICE CENTRAL 13 112 JUSTICE CENTRAL 8
114 CNN EN ESPANOL 12 114 ACCUWEATHER 7
115 FUSE 10 114 CLEO TV 7
115 OLYMPIC CHANNEL 10 116 PURSUIT CHANNEL 6
117 CLEO TV 9 117 CNN EN ESPANOL 5
118 PURSUIT CHANNEL 8 117 OLYMPIC CHANNEL 5
119 ACCUWEATHER 7 119 BEIN SPORT ESPANOL 2
120 BLACK NEWS CHANNEL 4 119 BLACK NEWS CHANNEL 2
120 COMEDY.TV 4 119 COMEDY.TV 2
122 BEIN SPORT ESPANOL 3 122 BEIN SPORT 1
123 BEIN SPORT 2

 

Q4 2021 (Nielsen Live+SD)
M-Su 08:00PM-11:00PM M-Su 06:00AM-06:00AM
Rank Net P25-54(000) Rank Net P25-54 (000)
1 ESPN 1,132 1 ESPN 380
2 TBS NETWORK 525 2 FOX NEWS CHANNEL 237
3 FOX NEWS CHANNEL 366 3 TBS NETWORK 212
4 NFL NETWORK 350 4 HALLMARK CHANNEL 176
5 TURNER NETWORK TELEVISION 335 5 FOOD NETWORK 155
6 FREEFORM 279 5 TURNER NETWORK TELEVISION 155
7 HALLMARK CHANNEL 268 7 INVESTIGATION DISCOVERY 151
8 FOOD NETWORK 266 8 HOME AND GARDEN TV 145
9 TLC 263 9 FREEFORM 140
10 USA NETWORK 252 10 USA NETWORK 129
11 PARAMOUNT 247 11 TV LAND 121
12 BRAVO 237 12 PARAMOUNT 118
12 HOME AND GARDEN TV 237 13 COMEDY CENTRAL 114
14 DISCOVERY CHANNEL 225 14 A&E NETWORK 113
15 AMC 207 15 NFL NETWORK 110
16 FX 200 16 NICKELODEON 108
17 INVESTIGATION DISCOVERY 188 17 FX 107
18 ESPN2 184 18 AMC 106
19 A&E NETWORK 179 19 CNN 103
20 HISTORY 177 19 TLC 103
21 FOX SPORTS 1 170 21 MTV 99
22 COMEDY CENTRAL 160 22 HISTORY 96
23 ADULT SWIM 156 23 DISCOVERY CHANNEL 92
24 MTV 149 24 BLACK ENTERTAINMENT TV 87
24 SYFY 149 25 LIFETIME TELEVISION 85
26 LIFETIME TELEVISION 148 26 BRAVO 84
27 CNN 138 27 SYFY 80
27 MSNBC 138 28 MSNBC 77
29 BLACK ENTERTAINMENT TV 136 29 ESPN2 75
29 FXX 136 30 FXX 73
31 TV LAND 132 31 WETV 66
32 NICK-AT-NITE 122 32 TRAVEL CHANNEL 65
33 WETV 112 33 FOX SPORTS 1 64
34 E! 108 33 OXYGEN MEDIA 64
35 TRAVEL CHANNEL 101 35 E! 62
36 VH1 97 35 VH1 62
37 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC 89 37 HALLMARK MOVIES & MYSTERIES 60
38 HALLMARK MOVIES & MYSTERIES 86 37 HLN 60
38 TUDN 86 39 DISNEY JUNIOR 58
40 OXYGEN MEDIA 82 40 DISNEY CHANNEL 54
41 TRUTV 80 41 ANIMAL PLANET 51
42 ANIMAL PLANET 75 42 NICK JR 50
43 CMT 74 43 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC 49
44 INSP 71 43 TRUTV 49
45 LIFETIME MOVIE NETWORK 66 45 CMT 48
45 THE CARTOON NETWORK 66 46 LIFETIME MOVIE NETWORK 47
47 DISNEY JUNIOR 64 47 GSN 46
47 IFC TV 64 48 THE CARTOON NETWORK 43
49 GSN 63 49 INSP 42
50 BBC-AMERICA 61 50 MOTOR TREND 36
50 OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK 61 50 POP 36
52 HBO PRIME 60 52 BBC-AMERICA 35
53 DISNEY CHANNEL 59 52 OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK 35
53 HLN 59 52 SCIENCE 35
55 MOTOR TREND 57 55 IFC TV 34
56 NICK JR 55 55 SUNDANCE TV 34
57 SUNDANCE TV 54 57 CNBC 32
58 SCIENCE 50 57 TV ONE 32
59 CNBC 49 59 HBO PRIME 29
60 GALAVISION 45 60 NAT GEO WILD 27
61 TV ONE 43 61 TUDN 26
62 POP 42 62 NBC SPORTS NETWORK 25
63 NBA-TV 39 63 COOKING CHANNEL 24
64 COOKING CHANNEL 38 64 FX MOVIE CHANNEL 22
64 NAT GEO WILD 38 64 THE WEATHER CHANNEL 22
66 FX MOVIE CHANNEL 34 66 REELZCHANNEL 21
66 SHOWTIME PRIME 34 67 UP 20
68 REELZCHANNEL 33 68 DIY NETWORK 19
69 VICE 31 69 BOOMERANG 18
70 STARZ PRIMARY 30 69 FYI 18
71 DIY NETWORK 29 69 NICKTOONS 18
72 FYI 28 72 GALAVISION 17
73 BIG TEN NETWORK 27 72 NEWSMAX TV 17
73 FOX DEPORTES 27 72 SHOWTIME PRIME 17
73 NEWSMAX TV 27 72 VICE 17
73 THE WEATHER CHANNEL 27 76 STARZ PRIMARY 16
77 UP 26 77 DISNEY XD 15
78 NBC SPORTS NETWORK 25 77 MTV2 15
78 UNIVERSO 25 79 LOGO 14
80 ESPNU 24 79 NBA-TV 14
81 DISCOVERY EN ESPANOL 23 79 STARZ ENCORE PRIMARY 14
82 MTV2 22 82 BIG TEN NETWORK 13
83 BOOMERANG 21 82 HALLMARK DRAMA 13
83 STARZ ENCORE PRIMARY 21 82 NEWSNATION 13
85 MLB NETWORK 20 82 UNIVERSO 13
86 DISNEY XD 19 86 FOX BUSINESS NETWORK 12
86 NICKTOONS 19 86 SMITHSONIAN 12
88 SMITHSONIAN 18 88 FETV 11
89 FETV 16 88 MLB NETWORK 11
89 HALLMARK DRAMA 16 88 TEENNICK 11
91 BET HER 15 91 AMERICAN HEROES CHANNEL 10
92 LOGO 14 91 BET HER 10
93 DESTINATION AMERICA 13 91 DISCOVERY EN ESPANOL 10
93 ESPN DEPORTES 13 91 ESPNU 10
95 AMERICAN HEROES CHANNEL 12 91 GOLF CHANNEL 10
95 DISCOVERY FAMILY CHANNEL 12 91 UNIVERSAL KIDS 10
95 GOLF CHANNEL 12 97 DESTINATION AMERICA 9
98 DISCOVERY FAMILIA 11 98 FOX DEPORTES 8
98 MAXPRIME 11 99 BABY FIRST TV 7
98 OVATION 11 99 ESPN DEPORTES 7
101 TEENNICK 10 99 GAC FAMILY 7
102 AXS TV 9 99 MAXPRIME 7
102 GAC FAMILY 9 103 DISCOVERY FAMILY CHANNEL 6
104 BABY FIRST TV 8 103 OVATION 6
104 FOX BUSINESS NETWORK 8 105 DISCOVERY FAMILIA 5
104 UNIVERSAL KIDS 8 105 DISCOVERY LIFE CHANNEL 5
107 DISCOVERY LIFE CHANNEL 7 107 AXS TV 4
107 NEWSNATION 7 107 CLEO TV 4
109 THE COWBOY CHANNEL 6 107 FUSE 4
110 CLEO TV 5 110 FOX SPORTS 2 3
110 FUSE 5 110 TENNIS CHANNEL 3
110 RFD-TV 5 112 ACCUWEATHER 2
110 TENNIS CHANNEL 5 112 JUSTICE CENTRAL 2
114 FOX SPORTS 2 4 112 PURSUIT CHANNEL 2
115 CNN EN ESPANOL 3 112 RFD-TV 2
115 JUSTICE CENTRAL 3 112 THE COWBOY CHANNEL 2
115 OLYMPIC CHANNEL 3 117 BEIN SPORT 1
116 PURSUIT CHANNEL 3 117 BEIN SPORT ESPANOL 1
119 ACCUWEATHER 1 117 CNN EN ESPANOL 1
119 BEIN SPORT 1 117 OLYMPIC CHANNEL 1
119 BEIN SPORT ESPANOL 1
119 COMEDY.TV 1

 

 

 

 

*Prime excludes networks not in majority of daypart 50%+ in the prime daypart
Total Day excludes networks not in majority of daypart 50%+ in the total day daypart
Coverage area ratings are within each cable network’s universe.
As some networks program different portions of the day, the DUR column indicates each network’s duration in minutes for the measurement period and the daypart.
This report includes only those cable networks who supply program names to the industry.

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