Week of Aug. 15 Basic Cable Ranker: Fox News Remains Most-Watched Network Despite Comparatively Quiet News Week

By A.J. Katz 

The three major cable news networks—Fox News, MSNBC and CNN—shed viewers during what was a relatively quiet summer news week of August 15.

Despite these week-to-week losses, Fox News Channel remained on top in total audience.

According to live plus same day data from Nielsen, FNC averaged 2.34 million total viewers in primetime this past week, No. 1 on basic cable for the 12th consecutive week but -13% from the prior week. In the adults 25-54 demo, the network dropped behind ESPN to No. 2 on basic cable in primetime, averaging 313,000, -17% from the week prior. Fox News averaged nearly 1.5 million total viewers in the daypart this past week, is No. 1 on basic cable, but a -11% loss from the week prior. The network averaged 208,000 in the adults 25-54 demo in total day, No. 1 in basic cable and -14% from last week.


To be fair, ratings for the previous week (Aug. 8) were driven by breaking news of the FBI executing a search warrant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Florida residence on that Monday. The breaking news coverage was featured on cable news throughout the week, resulting in significant gains for the top outlets. There was no major news event on a similar scale that took place this past week.

CNN averaged 750,000 total viewers in primetime during the week of Aug. 15, -16% from the week prior—placing the network at No. 3 in cable news and No. 7 in all of basic cable. CNN averaged 150,000 A25-54 viewers in primetime, placing the network at No. 17 on basic cable and -23% from the week prior. CNN also saw expected losses in total day viewing, -15% in total viewers (564,000) and -20% in the key A25-54 demo (107,000). The network finished No. 3 on basic cable in total day viewers—but No. 12  in the total day demo.

MSNBC remained the second most-watched network on basic cable in total viewers, averaging 1.36 million total viewers in primetime and 822,000 in total day for the week of Aug. 15. The 1.36 million viewer average is -12% from what MSNBC averaged in primetime the prior week, while the 822,000 is -12% from what the network averaged in total day the prior week. MSNBC also averaged 127,000 adults 25-54 in primetime, ranking No. 23 on basic cable—and -28% from the prior week. MSNBC averaged 87,000 adults 25-54 in total day, which is -19% from the prior week, placing it at No. 16 on basic cable.

Relative to the week of August 16, 2021, when cable news extensively covered the chaotic Afghanistan pullout, FNC shed -21% in total primetime viewers and -40% in the A25-54 demo. When it came to total day viewing, the network shed -15% in total viewers and -32% in the key demo vs. the same week in 2021. CNN, which historically has seen the most ratings change during periods of breaking news, shed -22% in total primetime viewers and -38% in the demo, as well as -19% in total day viewers and -37% in total day demo vs. that week in 2021. MSNBC actually gained total viewers, +10% in primetime and +14% in total day. However, it did lose adults 25-54, -22% in primetime and -7% in total day vs. the year-ago week.

Week of August 15 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):

• Total Viewers: 2,341,000 1,360,000 750,000
• A25-54: 313,000 127,000 150,000




• Total Viewers: 1,484,000 822,000 564,000
• A25-54: 208,000 87,000 107,000




In terms of individual programming, The Five begins a new streak as the most-watched cable news show after having ceded it the previous week. The news talk panel program averaged 3.41 million total viewers during the week of August 15, No. 1 overall. Tucker Carlson Tonight took second place in total viewers (3.29 million at 8 p.m.), followed by Hannity (2.84 million at 9 p.m.), MSNBC’s weekly The Rachel Maddow Show (2.75 million at 9 p.m.), with The Ingraham Angle (2.5 million at 7 p.m.) rounding out the top five. Tucker Carlson Tonight (470,000), The Five (404,000), Hannity (385,000), Gutfeld! (379,000) and The Ingraham Angle (371,ooo) were the top five cable news offerings for the week among adults 25-54.

Additionally, the final episode of CNN’s Reliable Sources hosted by Brian Stelter averaged 769,000 total viewers at 11 a.m. ET, making it CNN’s most-watched show on Sunday, Aug. 21. CNN’s second quarter average in the Sunday 11 a.m. timeslot was 649,000 total viewers. The Reliable Sources finale beat its MSNBC timeslot competition, but came up short to Fox News’ MediaBuzz in all measurements.

Anyways, below are the cable network rankers:

Week of Aug. 15 (Total Viewers)

Week of Aug. 15 (Adults 25-54)