CNN was the most-watched cable news network for the month of January, followed by MSNBC and Fox News in that order. CNN and MSNBC hadn’t ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in total viewers in 20 years.
CNN may have been the most-watched network, both in prime time and across the full 24-hour day last month, but Rachel Maddow was (and continues to be) the most-watched host in 2021.
Her 9 p.m. MSNBC show finished No. 1 in total viewers for the month of January, and has been No. 1 on cable news for 17 consecutive days, dipping into the month of February.
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, a perennial top finisher in recent months, finished second in average total viewers, followed by CNN’s top host Chris Cuomo.
As per Nielsen data, here are the top 25 regularly-scheduled cable news shows for the month of January, sorted by average total viewers. This data does include time-shifting and excludes re-airs.
|Rank||Net||Show Name||Start Time||P2+
|1||MSNBC||RACHEL MADDOW SHOW||09:00 PM||4326||21|
|2||FOXNC||TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT||08:00 PM||3666||23|
|3||CNN||CUOMO PRIME TIME||09:00 PM||3622||17|
|4||MSNBC||LAST WORD LAWRENCE ODONNELL||10:00 PM||3369||21|
|5||CNN||ANDERSON COOPER 360||08:00 PM||3361||20|
|6||MSNBC||DEADLINE:WHITE HOUSE||04:00 PM||3204||21|
|8||CNN||ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT||07:00 PM||3039||20|
|9||FOXNC||FIVE, THE||05:00 PM||2908||22|
|10||CNN||LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER||04:00 PM||2794||19|
|11||MSNBC||11TH HOUR W/BRIAN WILLIAMS||11:00 PM||2779||23|
|12||CNN||SITUATION ROOM WOLF BLITZER||05:00 PM||2777||19|
|13||CNN||CNN TONIGHT DON LEMON||10:00 PM||2749||21|
|14||CNN||CNN NEWSROOM||03:00 PM||2687||14|
|15||MSNBC||ALL IN W/ CHRIS HAYES||08:00 PM||2656||20|
|17||MSNBC||BEAT W/ARI MELBER||06:00 PM||2547||20|
|18||FOXNC||INGRAHAM ANGLE, THE||10:00 PM||2535||23|
|19||CNN||SITUATION ROOM||06:00 PM||2501||19|
|20||CNN||CNN NEWSROOM||02:00 PM||2477||18|
|21||CNN||CNN NEWSROOM||12:00 PM||2404||14|
|22||CNN||CNN NEWSROOM||01:00 PM||2328||18|
|23||FOXNC||SPECIAL RPT W/BRET BAIER||06:00 PM||2287||23|
|24||FOXNC||THE STORY MARTHA MACCALLUM||07:00 PM||2072||13|
|25||CNN||CNN NEWSROOM||11:00 AM||2021||19|
MSNBC had 7 of the top 25 most-watched regularly scheduled cable news shows for January. Fox News had six, while CNN had a 12. CNN’s daytime coverage has performed averaged especially large audiences in recent months, lifted by coverage of the election, the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, the inauguration, and of course, the pandemic.
The 3 p.m. hour of CNN Newsroom (anchored by Brooke Baldwin) is the most-watched hour of the afternoon for CNN. 3 p.m. is followed by 2 p.m. (also Baldwin), Noon (anchored by John King), 1 p.m. (anchored by Brianna Keilar) and 11 a.m. (anchored by Kate Bolduan) coming in at No. 25 in total viewers.
The Ingraham Angle is traditionally a top 5 cable news show, however, it dropped to No. 18 last month in total viewers. Special Report with Bret Baier and The Story with Martha MacCallum (which recently moved from 7 p.m. to 3 p.m.) are usually top 10 shows that fell to No. 23 and No. 24, respectively. Very rare. One would assume they’ll shoot back up the ranks past CNN and MSNBC once this hot news cycle calms down.
What about ranking cable news shows by Adults 25-54, you ask? CNN leads the charge with the top four, and eight of the top 10,led by the aforementioned Cuomo, AC360, Erin Burnett Outfront and CNN Tonight with Don Lemon.
TRMS, which finished No. 1 in total viewers and skews a bit older than its CNN competition, comes in at No. 5 in the demo. Maddow is followed in the A25-54 cable news hierarchy by both hours of The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, The Lead with Jake Tapper, his 3 p.m. CNN Newsroom lead-in (anchored by Brooke Baldwin), with Tucker Carlson rounding out the top 10.
The remaining top 25 is below.
|Rank||Net||Show Name||Start Time||P25-54
|1||CNN||CUOMO PRIME TIME||09:00 PM||1061||17|
|2||CNN||ANDERSON COOPER 360||08:00 PM||970||20|
|3||CNN||ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT||07:00 PM||893||20|
|4||CNN||CNN TONIGHT||10:00 PM||868||21|
|5||MSNBC||RACHEL MADDOW SHOW||09:00 PM||808||21|
|6||CNN||SITUATION ROOM||05:00 PM||728||19|
|7||CNN||SITUATION ROOM||06:00 PM||716||19|
|8||CNN||LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER||04:00 PM||703||19|
|9||CNN||CNN NEWSROOM (Baldwin)||03:00 PM||664||14|
|10||FOXNC||TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT||08:00 PM||651||23|
|11||CNN||CNN NEWSROOM (King)||12:00 PM||631||14|
|12||CNN||CNN NEWSROOM (Baldwin)||02:00 PM||623||18|
|13||CNN||CNN TONIGHT||11:00 PM||620||17|
|14||CNN||CNN NEWSROOM (Keilar)||01:00 PM||598||18|
|15||MSNBC||LAST WORD / L. ODONNELL||10:00 PM||586||21|
|17||MSNBC||DEADLINE:WHITE HOUSE||04:00 PM||543||21|
|18||MSNBC||11TH HOUR W/B. WILLIAMS||11:00 PM||523||23|
|19||CNN||CNN NEWSROOM (Boulduan)||11:00 AM||512||19|
|21||MSNBC||ALL IN W/ CHRIS HAYES||08:00 PM||466||20|
|22||FOXNC||INGRAHAM ANGLE, THE||10:00 PM||465||23|
|23||CNN||CNN NEWSROOM||10:00 AM||464||19|
|24||CNN||ANDERSON COOPER 360||12:00 AM||457||14|
|25||MSNBC||BEAT W/ARI MELBER||06:00 PM||434||20|