Week of Aug. 16 Ranker: Fox News Dominates; MSNBC and CNN Round Out Cable’s 3 Most-Watched Networks

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News Channel was the most-watched network on basic cable during the week of Aug. 16, both in total day and in primetime dayparts. In addition to finishing No. 1 in total viewers, Fox News also finished No. 1 on basic cable in the total day demo (after finishing No. 1 in that measurement the previous week). The network also finished No. 1 on all of basic cable in the primetime A25-54 demo.

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, FNC averaged 2.98 million total viewers and 518,000 in the 25-54 demo in primetime last week. That’s +35% and +53%, respectively, from what the network averaged the prior week (Aug. 9) in those measurements. This means Fox has posted three consecutive weeks of viewer growth in key measurements, and once again averaged more total primetime viewers last week than CNN and MSNBC combined.

Fox News also averaged 1.74 million total viewers in total day (+39% from the prior week), marking 27 consecutive weeks as the most-watched cable news network in that particular 24-hour daypart. The network averaged 305,000 adults 25-54 in total day, which is +45% from the prior week.


Breaking news coverage of the situation of Afghanistan has provided FNC with massive ratings, beginning Monday, Aug. 16 and throughout the week.

With an assist from an interview with the former president, Hannity improved to the No. 1 show on cable news this past week. The program averaged 3.69 million viewers for the week. After Hannity, Tucker Carlson Tonight, The Five, The Ingraham Angle, Special Report with Bret Baier, Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fox News Primetime, The Story with Martha MacCallum, America Reports and MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show rounded out cable news’ top 10 in total viewers.

Speaking of Rachel Maddow, her home network MSNBC remained No.2 on basic cable in average total primetime audience this past week (1.24 million viewers) after coming in second the week before. The network finished No. 23 among adults 25-54 during primetime (163,000),

MSNBC remained No. 2 on basic cable in total day viewers (718,000) after finishing second the prior week, and No. 24 among adults 25-54 during total day (94,000).

Relative to the previous week, MSNBC shed -7% in average total prime time viewers, but grew +3% in the prime time demo. The network -6% in average total day audience, and -6% in the total day demo from the previous week.

CNN averaged 960,000 total viewers in prime time (No. 5 on basic cable), and 696,000 in total day (No. 3 on basic cable) during the week of Aug. 16. When it came to adults 25-54, CNN finished No. 10 in primetime (242,000), and No. 5 in total day (1169,000) last week.

How do those figures stack up against comparable weeks? Quite well. CNN always sees significant ratings growth during periods of breaking news, and last week certainly featured breaking news – the situation in Afghanistan, as well as inclement weather in the Northeast (Hurricane Henri) and Tennessee.

CNN grew by +23% in average total primetime viewers, by +32% primetime demo, +17% in total day viewers, and +32% in the total day demo from the prior week.

CNN beat MSNBC in the key A25-54 demo, while MSNBC beat CNN in total viewers.

Week of Aug. 16 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):

• Total Viewers: 2,980,000 1,236,000 960,000
• A25-54: 518,000 163,000 242,000




• Total Viewers: 1,739,000 718,000 696,000
• A25-54: 305,000 94,000 169,000




How about the broader basic cable landscape?

When it came to average total viewers in primetime: Fox News, MSNBC, HGTV, TLC, CNN, NFL Network, ESPN, TBS, INSP, History. In terms of most-watched cable nets in total day: Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, HGTV, ID, INSP, Hallmark Channel, ESPN, Food Network, and History.

Week of Aug. 16 cable news ranker (Total Viewers)

Among adults 25-54 in primetime: Fox News, NFL Network, TBS, ESPN, TLC, HGTV, Food Network, TNT, USA and CNN. Among adults 25-54 in total day: Fox News, ESPN, TBS, HGTV, CNN, NFL Network, Food Network, ID, TNT, and USA.

Week of Aug. 16 basic cable ranker (Adults 25-54)