This Is the Cable News Ratings Report for 2023

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News Channel marked another year as basic cable’s most-watched network, per live plus same day data from Nielsen, while TV sports powerhouse ESPN once again averaged the most viewers under 55 for 2023.

Below, the year-end Nielsen ratings report:

Fox News Channel:


2023 was yet another chaotic year in television news, as we made clear in last week’s posts. But one constant emerged amid all of the chaos in 2023: Fox News Channel was the most-watched network on all of basic cable.

FNC averaged the largest audience on basic cable in 2023, both in total day (1.21 million viewers) and in primetime (1.89 million viewers). The network also averaged 210,000 adults 25-54 in primetime (No. 5 on basic cable) and 148,000 adults 25-54 in total day (No. 2 on basic cable), according to live plus same day data from Nielsen.

Despite the usual dominance over its cable news competition, and top ranking among cable’s most-watched networks, Fox News saw a substantial drop in viewership relative to its 2022 year-end performance. Relative to last year, Fox News shed a substantial number of viewers. It dropped -20% in total primetime viewers, -38% in the primetime demo, -18% in total day viewers and -35% in the total day demo.

Nevertheless, Fox News the six most-watched regularly-scheduled shows on cable news, and nine of the top 10 cable news programs in the 25-54 demo. It was also the cable news destination for wall-to-wall Israel-Hamas war coverage and GOP primary debates.

The Five closed out 2023 as cable’s most-watched show for the second consecutive year — a cable news first. The roundtable news talk show averaged 2.89 million total viewers at 5 p.m. In its first year at 8 p.m., Jesse Watters Primetime was cable news’ second most-watched show, averaging 2.49 million total viewers, followed by Hannity (2.36 million), Special Report with Bret Baier (2.07 million), The Ingraham Angle (1.96 million) and Gutfeld! (1.85 million)

With Tucker Carlson Tonight off the air effective late-April, The Five ended up being the top cable news show for 2023 among Adults 25-54 (301,000). Hannity (271,000), Gutfeld! (267,000), (,000) Jesse Watters Primetime (263,000) and The Ingraham Angle (218,000) follow.

Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott remarked on the network’s Nielsen ratings in a statement, “During yet another unprecedented news cycle, cable viewers continued to choose FOX News Channel. From moderating debates to reporting in war zones and many stories in between, I am honored to work alongside this unrivaled team of journalists and opinion hosts as they continue to exceed expectations.”


MSNBC completed its sixth consecutive year as the second-most-watched basic cable network in total day, remained No. 3 in average total primetime viewers (behind FNC and ESPN), and was one of a select few cable networks to actually gain total viewers from the year prior. In an era of cord-cutting (and it being an off-election year), that’s a notable achievement.

In 2023, MSNBC averaged 1.21 million total primetime viewers and 776,000 total day viewers, 122,000 adults 25-54 in primetime (No. 21), and 86,000 A25-54 in total day viewers (No. 13). That’s according to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data. How do those figures compare to 2022? MSNBC gained +0.2% in total primetime viewers (+3,000 total), but gained +6% in total day viewers. The network actually dropped -8%  in the primetime demo (marking its worst performance in the measurement since 1999), but gained +4% in the total day demo from 2022.

MSNBC’s 9 p.m. hour (The Rachel Maddow Show on Mondays, Alex Wagner Tonight on Tuesdays-Fridays) was the network’s top-rated hour of 2023. It averaged 1.6 million total viewers (No. 7 overall) and 165,000 A25-54 (No. 10 overall).


Similar to Fox News, CNN saw drop-off in 2023. But unlike Fox News, CNN was not among cable’s most-watched networks. In fact, its 582,000 total primetime viewer average for 2023 represents the network’s smallest average primetime audience for a year in network history.

Relative to 2022, CNN shed -19% in total primetime viewers, -26% in the primetime demo, -15% in total day viewers and -23% in the total day demo. The network ranked No. 12 in total primetime viewers (582,000) after finishing No. 10 the year before, finished No. 18 in the primetime demo (131,000) after finishing No. 12 the year before, remained No. 4 in total day viewers (479,000) after finishing No. 4 the year before, and dropped to No. 11 in the total day demo (94,000) after finishing No. 9 the year before.

On the plus side, CNN marked yet another year of averaging more A25-54 viewers than MSNBC. However, the network desperately hopes to see viewer growth in 2024, a presidential election year.

Anderson Cooper 360 was CNN’s most-watched show of 2023, averaging 737,000 viewers at 8 p.m. (No. 29 on cable news). It also averaged the most Adults 25-54 of any CNN show in 2023, 155,000 at 8 p.m. (No. 15 on cable news).


Newsmax gained +22% in total primetime viewers (217,000 vs. 178,000) and +20% in total day viewers (144,000 vs. 120,000) from 2022. However, the network lost traction among viewers under 55, shedding -13% in the primetime demo (21,000 vs. 24,000) and -19% in the total day demo (13,000 vs. 16,000).

Rob Schmitt Tonight was Newsmax’s most-watched show (350,000) for 2023.

Powered by an original primetime lineup, an expansion to 24/5 news starting in May (NewsNation only airs NewsNation Prime on the weekends), and a GOP primary debate in Q4, NewsNation saw substantial primetime viewership growth in 2023. The network gained +71% in total primetime viewers (101,000 vs. 59,000) and +100% in the primetime A25-54 demo (18,000 vs. 9,000). However, the network is down -20% in total day viewers (74,000 vs. 92,000) and -20% in total day A25-54 viewers (12,000 vs. 15,000) from 2022.

Cuomo is NewsNation’s most-watched show for 2023, averaging 141,000 viewers at 8 p.m.


CNBC averaged more total day and primetime viewers than Fox Business in 2023. However, Fox Business averaged more total business day viewers (9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. ET) than CNBC, 200,000 vs. 190,000. Additionally, the network’s GOP primary debate on Sept. 27, 2023 delivered 1.82 million total viewers, marking its highest-rated telecast since 2016

Other Cable Networks:

ESPN remains the standard in drawing Americans under 55 to their TV sets. The Worldwide Leader in Sports dominated the competition in primetime, averaging 761,000 A25-54, ahead of fellow male-skewing and sports-driven networks TNT, TBS and USA. Fox News ranked No. 5 in the primetime demo. ESPN also ranked No. 1 in the total day demo (320,000), ahead of Fox, TNT, TBS and USA.

Below, the year-end ratings rankers. This is sorted by Nielsen live-plus-same day data and may change slightly as time-delayed data arrives in the coming days.

2023 Year-End Cable Ranker (Total Viewers)

2023 Year-End Cable Ranker (Adults 25-54)