Week of April 12 Cable Ranker: Fox News Holds Onto First Place, Posts Audience Growth in Key Dayparts

By A.J. Katz 

During the week of April, Fox News was the most-watched cable network and the top-rated cable news network in prime time, averaging nearly 2.3 million viewers and 357,000 in the 25-54 demo during the 8-11 p.m. ET time period.

In total day (6 a.m.-6 a.m. ET), Fox was the only cable net to crack 1 million viewers (1.3 million) last week, and averaged 219,000 in the 25-54 demographic.

Tucker Carlson Tonight averaged the largest audience on cable news for the week, 3.1 million total viewers to go with 500,000 adults 25-54.


On Saturday, special coverage of the funeral of Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh helmed by anchor Martha MacCallum delivered 2.3 million viewers and 365,000 in the 25-54 demo from 9 a.m.-Noon ET. Notably, this brought in Fox News’ largest audience on a Saturday in this timeslot since pre-election 2020.

Fox had a solid ratings week overall. Compared to the prior week (April 5), the network grew +5% in total prime time viewers, and +2% in the prime time demo. In total day, Fox News also grew +5% in total viewers, and +6% among adults 25-54.

That said, the network still isn’t quite where it was at this time last year. The comparable week in 2020 (week of April 13) featured early Covid-19 pandemic coverage, which caused Americans to flock to their TV sets. Additionally, all three networks aired  the White House daily coronavirus task force briefings. There was just more news in general at this time last year, with the exception of the Derek Chauvin murder trial that ended on Tuesday, April 20.

It won’t be a surprise to learn then that compared to the year ago week, Fox News shed -40% of its average total prime time audience, and lost nearly half of its audience in the prime time demo (-48%). In total day, the network fell -45% in total viewers, and -51% in the demo. Fox (and its competitors) will very likely be seeing year-over-year ratings losses through the spring.

After slipping into a second place tie in the prime time demo during the week of April 5, CNN moved past MSNBC in the category this past week. While CNN once again stands alone in second place among adults 25-54 in the key dayparts, the network remains third behind both Fox News and MSNBC in total viewers.

CNN grew +6% of its average total prime time audience, and an impressive +29% in the prime time demo. In total day, the network grew +8% in total viewers, and +12% the key A25-54 demo. This growth in total day viewership makes sense. CNN has been airing coverage of the Chauvin trial during the day, a breaking news event that attracts viewers who might not traditionally tune in to CNN (or cable news more generally). On the downside for CNN, compared to the same week the previous year, the network shed -45% of its total prime time audience and dropped by -48% in the prime time demo. In total day, the network fell -41% in total viewers from last year, and dropped -45% in the total day demo.

MSNBC was once again the second-most-watched network on all of basic cable. Like clockwork. However, the network saw losses from the prior week. It fell -1% in total day viewers, and -1% in the total day demo. The network struggled more in prime time, falling -7% in total viewers and -7% in the demo.

Versus the same week in 2020, MSNBC shed -27% of its average total prime time audience, -37% of its prime time demo audience, fell -27% in total day viewers and -38% in the total day demo. Still having some issues capturing the younger viewers.

The week of March 29, 2021, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):

• Total Viewers: 2,284,000 1,534,000 1,074,000
• A25-54: 357,000 215,000 297,000




• Total Viewers: 1,260,000 954,000 809,000
• A25-54: 219,000 135,000 211,000




What about those other cable networks, you ask?

Fox News, MSNBC, HGTV, CNN, TBS, Hallmark, ESPN, History, Discovery and Food Network were the ten most-watched basic cable networks in prime time.

In total day, Fox News ranked No. 1 again, also followed by MSNBC, and then CNN ahead of HGTV, which finished No. 4, followed by Hallmark, ID, Food Network, ESPN, History, and Lifetime.

Week of April 12 Basic Cable Ranker (Total Viewers)