The Top Cable News Programs of 2017 Are…

By A.J. Katz Comment

With Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly out of the picture, the year-end cable news program rankings look a bit different this year.

When ranking cable news programming by total viewers, and by adults 25-54, Fox News tops the year-end charts once again.

MSNBC and CNN have more of a presence at/towards the top of the A18-49 rankings.

As you may have guessed, Fox News is led by Sean Hannity this year. After 57 telecasts in the 9 p.m. hour this year, (the rest were at 10 p.m.), Hannity became 2017’s most-watched cable news program.

Here’s a look at the Top 10 for 2017 in terms of total audience. The numbers include Nielsen data through December 22, 2017, and as always, it’s in Nielsen live+same-day format.

TOTAL VIEWERS (Live+SD data)

  1. Hannity (3,175,000) / 57 telecasts
  2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (2,755,000) / 175 telecasts
  3. The Five ( 2,687,000) / 146 telecasts
  4. The Rachel Maddow Show (2,548,000) / 245 telecasts
  5. The Ingraham Angle (2,509,000) / 36 telecasts
  6. Special Report with Bret Baier (2,444,000) / 277 telecasts
  7. The Story with Martha MacCallum (2,083,000) / 167 telecasts
  8. Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell (2,078,000) / 245 telecasts
  9. America’s Newsroom (1,879,000) / 529 telecasts
  10. Outnumbered (1,787,000) / 257 telecasts

Fox News had 8 of the 10 most-watched cable news programs for 2017, with Hannity leading the way.

The network was down year-over-year in the 8 p.m. hour, but up at 9 p.m. Bret Baier was +2 percent in total viewers this year at 6 p.m., while The Five, America’s Newsroom and Outnumbered also posted double digit year-over-year improvement. Laura Ingraham‘s new 10 p.m. program is presently up in total viewers versus what Hannity averaged at 10 p.m. last year.

But MSNBC’s year-over-year audience growth was a significant story this year. Rachel Maddow, whose program finished No. 12 in total viewers last night, moved up to No. 4 this year, and grew +77 percent. Lawrence O’Donnell was outside of the top 15 last year, but moved up to No. 8 this year, and saw his total audience grow +67 percent.

Anderson Cooper 360 was CNN’s most-watched show last year, coming in at No. 17 in total viewers. AC360, once again CNN’s most-watched program this year, slipped to No. 22 across cable news, but actually posted year-over-year total audience growth (+6 percent).

ADULTS 25-54 (Live+SD data)

  1. Hannity (645,000) / 57 telecasts
  2. Rachel Maddow Show (586,000) / 245 telecasts
  3. Tucker Carlson Tonight (541,000) / 170 telecasts
  4. The Ingraham Angle (499,000) / 36 telecasts
  5. The Five (472,000) / 146 telecasts
  6. Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell (453,000) / 245 telecasts
  7. Special Report with Bret Baier (444,000) / 277 telecasts
  8. Anderson Cooper 360 (427,000) / 462 telecasts
  9. The Story with Martha MacCallum (414,000) / 167 telecasts
  10. All In with Chris Hayes (384,000) / 253 telecasts

Fox News was home to 6 of the Top 10 cable news shows of the year among adults 25-54, the demo that means the most to advertisers of TV news.

Hannity technically had the top cable news show of the year in the demo, followed by Maddow, who grew her demo audience by +74 percent from 2016. Maddow finished No. 9 in the demo last year.

Tucker Carlson finished No. 3 in the demo, followed by the Ingraham Angle, The Five (+27 percent), O’Donnell (+63 percent), Baier (+12 percent), the 8/9 p.m. hours of AC 360 (+25 percent), Martha MacCallum, and Chris Hayes (+54 percent).

ADULTS 18-49 (Live+SD)

  1. Rachel Maddow Show (418,000) / 245 telecasts
  2. Hannity (407,000) / 67 telecasts
  3. Tucker Carlson Tonight (356,000) / 170 telecasts
  4. AC 360 (338,000) / 462 telecasts
  5. The Five (328,000) / 146 telecasts
  6. The Ingraham Angle (315,000) / 36 telecasts
  7. Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell (310,000) / 245 telecasts
  8. Special Report with Bret Baier (297,000) / 277 telecasts
  9. Erin Burnett Outfront (291,000) / 254 telecasts
  10. CNN Tonight with Don Lemon (283,000) / 428 telecasts

Fox News had 5 of the Top 10 cable news show among younger news viewers, 18-49. CNN had 3 shows make the top 10, while MSNBC had two.

As one might have expected, Maddow had the top show among 18-49 year-olds. She had the No. 10 show in this demo last year. But Hannity wasn’t far behind, coming in second. Tucker Carlson was No. 3, AC360 was No. 4 in this demo (as was the case last year). The Five moved up to No. 5 (it was No, 7 last year). The Ingraham Angle slipped from No. 5 among A25-54, to No. 6 among A18-49. The Last Word finished No. 13 in this category last year, and moved up to No. 7 this year. Bret Baier was No. 6 last year, and No. 8 this year, while Erin Burnett was No. 11 last year, and No. 9 this year. CNN Tonight was No. 5 last year, but slipped to No. 10 this year among adults 18-49.

MORNING SHOWS

Last but not least, below is a look a year-end look at the cable news morning shows.

Broadcast morning shows may have declined from 2016, but cable news morning shows showed year-over-year audience growth in 2017.

Program: Total Viewers / Adults 25-54 / Adults 18-49

  • Fox & Friends: 1,595,000 / 367,000 / 230,000
  • Morning Joe: 975,000 / 226,000 / 149,000
  • New Day: 633,000 / 227,000 / 164,000

Fox & Friends was No. 1 in 2017, as expected. But what wasn’t necessarily expected was the battle for second place. MSNBC’s Morning Joe dominated CNN New Day in total viewers, but New Day beat Morning Joe among younger news viewers.

As of now, New Day also has a 1,000 viewer lead over Morning in the ad-friendly A25-54 demo (227,000 vs. 226,000). Now, these figures include viewership through December 22. The Nielsen calendar doesn’t technically end until December 31. It’s possible that the battle for A25-54 ends up swaying in Morning Joe’s favor. But maybe it doesn’t. This is somewhat of a surprising result as of now.

 

Below are three cable news program rankers. The first is sorted by P2+ (total viewers), the second by adults 25-54, and the third by adults 18-49. Click on the “+” icon to zoom in.

2017 Cable News Ranker (Total Viewers)

2017 Cable News Ranker ( A25-54)

2017 Cable News Ranker (A18-49)

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