Week of Aug. 23 Cable Network Ranker: Fox News Has Highest-Rated Week of 2021 in Total Day Viewers

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News Channel was the most-watched network on basic cable during the week of Aug. 23, both in total day and 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), and No. 1 on all of basic cable in the primetime A25-54 demo.

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, FNC averaged 3.10 million total viewers and 537,000 in the 25-54 demo in primetime last week. That’s +4% and +4%, respectively, from what the network averaged the prior week (Aug. 16) in those measurements. Fox has now delivered four consecutive weeks of viewership growth.

In addition to primetime, Fox News averaged 1.86 million total viewers in total day (+7% from the prior week), marking 28 consecutive weeks as the most-watched cable news network in the 6 a.m.-6 a.m. particular daypart. The network also averaged 333,000 adults 25-54 in total day, which is +9% from the prior week.


In addition to coverage of the Afghanistan conflict, breaking news coverage of Hurricane Ida on the final day of the week gave Fox an additional boost in viewership.

Fox News’ 5 p.m. hour (The Five) was the most-watched hour on cable news last week, with the network hauling an average of 4.07 million total viewers. FNC also averaged 677,000 viewers in the key A25-54 demo that hour.

The week of Aug. 23 was Fox News’ highest-rated week of 2021 in total day—both total viewers and the A25-54 demo.

MSNBC remained No. 2 on basic cable in average total primetime viewers this past week (1.41 million viewers). However, the network finished No. 18 among adults 25-54 during primetime (185,000). It held steady at No. 2 on basic cable in total day viewers (792,000) and finished No. 19 among adults 25-54 during total day (101,000). Relative to the previous week, MSNBC posted more growth than its competitors in average total prime time viewers (+14%), yet grew just +1% in the prime time demo. The network also gained +10% in average total day audience and +7% in the total day demo from the previous week.

CNN, on the other hand, averaged 962,000 total viewers in prime time (No. 6 on basic cable) and 753,000 in total day (No. 3 on basic cable) during the week of Aug. 23. When it came to adults 25-54, CNN finished No. 11 in primetime (231,000) and No. 4 in total day (168,000) this past week.

How do those figures stack up against comparable weeks? They’re mixed. The network saw growth in average total viewers (less than +1% in primetime and +8% in total day), but lost some of the younger news viewers who may have tuned into previous week’s coverage of the Afghanistan conflict (-5% in primetime demo/-1% in total day demo).

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

Week of Aug. 23 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):

• Total Viewers: 3,104,000 1,411,000 964,000
• A25-54: 537,000 185,000 231,000




• Total Viewers: 1,864,000 792,000 753,000
• A25-54: 333,000 101,000 168,000




How about the broader basic cable landscape?

When it came to average total viewers in primetime, the order is: Fox News, MSNBC, ESPN, HGTV, TLC, CNN, Hallmark Channel, USA, INSP and TBS. In terms of most-watched cable nets in total day, Fox News, MSNBC and CNN lead the way for the second consecutive week. They’re followed by HGTV, ESPN, ID, Hallmark Channel, Food Network, INSP and The Weather Channel, the latter of which got a big lift Sunday from its wall-to-wall coverage of Hurricane Ida.

Week of Aug. 23 Ranker (Total Viewers)

Among adults 25-54 in primetime: Fox News is followed by ESPN, TBS, USA, HGTV, TLC, NFL Network, TNT, Food Network and Adult Swim. In total day, the order is: Fox News, ESPN, HGTV, CNN, ID, Food Network, USA, TBS, TNT and NFL Network.

Week of Aug. 23 Ranker (Adults 25-54)