Week of Aug. 29 Basic Cable Ranker: Fox News Marks 35 Consecutive Weeks at No. 1 in Total Day

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News Channel marked 35 consecutive weeks as the most-watched basic cable outlet in the 24-hour daypart—and 81 consecutive weeks as the most-watched cable news network with its Nielsen ratings performance during the week of August 29.

FNC did drop to No. 2 on primetime cable this past week after 13 consecutive weeks at the top. ESPN moved to No. 1 for the week in primetime, earning a significant ratings boost from opening weekend coverage of the new college football season.

According to live plus same day data from Nielsen, FNC averaged 2.14 million total viewers in primetime this past week, -3% from the prior week (Aug. 22, 2022). In the adults 25-54 demo, the network ranked No. 3 on basic cable in primetime, behind ESPN (987,000) and ESPN2 (293,000) averaging 286,000 viewers from the measurement, which is steady with the week prior. Shifting to total day (6 a.m.-6 a.m.), Fox News averaged 1.42 million total viewers in the daypart this past week, again No. 1 on basic cable but -1% from the week prior. Additionally, the network averaged 205,000 in the adults 25-54 demo in total day, No. 1 in basic cable and a +2% rise from the prior week.


MSNBC finished the week of Aug. 29 as the third-most-watched network on basic cable, averaging 1.40 million total viewers in primetime and 838,000 in total day. The 1.40 million viewer average is +7% from what the network averaged in primetime the prior week, while the 838,000 is +2% with what the network averaged in total day the prior week. MSNBC, per usual, beat CNN in total viewers, but not the demo. The network averaged 136,000 adults 25-54 in primetime, ranking No. 3 on cable news, No. 18 on basic cable—and +6% from the prior week, not nearly enough to move past CNN. MSNBC also averaged 89,000 adults 25-54 in total day, which is steady with the prior week, placing it at No. 16 on all of basic cable.

CNN averaged 653,000 total viewers in primetime during the week of Aug. 29, +3% from the week prior—No. 3 in cable news and No. 11 on all of basic cable. In addition, the network averaged 138,000 A25-54 viewers in primetime, placing the network at No. 2 on cable news (by only +2,000 viewers)—and No. 17 on basic cable. CNN’s weekend programming performance relative to MSNBC’s weekend programming performance is the reason it beat MSNBC for the full week in the demo. CNN actually gained +5% in primetime demo viewers from the week prior. When it came to total day viewing, CNN also posted gained +1% in total viewers—but lost -4% in the key A25-54 demo from the prior week. The network ranked No. 4 on basic cable in total day viewers—and No. 13 in the total day demo.

Relative to the week of August 30, 2021 (the year-ago week), when cable news continued to cover the Afghanistan exit conflict and the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, viewership for Fox News and CNN was down. In primetime, Fox is -19% in total viewers and -34% in the A25-54 demo. When it came to total day viewing, the network is down -8% in total viewers and -20% in the key demo, year-over-year. CNN, which historically sees the most ratings fluctuation during periods of breaking news, is down by -25% in total primetime viewers and -32% in the primetime demo, as well as -19% in total day viewers and -32% in total day demo from that week in 2021. MSNBC, on the other hand, saw mediocre ratings at this time last year. The network managed to gain +11% in total primetime viewers, +13% in total day viewers and +6% in the total day demo, but continues to have issues attracting the primetime demo—shedding -6% from the measurement year-over-year.

Week of August 29 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):

• Total Viewers: 2,140,000 1,403,000 653,000
• A25-54: 286,000 136,000 138,000




• Total Viewers: 1,424,000 838,000 529,000
• A25-54: 206,000 89,000 99,000




In terms of individual programming, The Five remains the most-watched cable news show for the second consecutive week. The news talk panel program averaged 3.33 million total viewers during the week of August 29, up from the prior week. Tucker Carlson Tonight took second place in total viewers (3.14 million at 8 p.m.), followed by Hannity (2.76 million at 9 p.m.), the once-weekly The Rachel Maddow Show (2.615 million viewers at 9 p.m.) and Special Report with Bret Baier (2.36 million viewers at 6 p.m.) rounding out the top five.

Tucker Carlson Tonight (441,000), The Five (411,000), Hannity (370,000), Gutfeld! (348,000) and Special Report (307,000) were the top five cable news offerings for the week among adults 25-54. Fox had nine of the 10-most-watched cable news shows of the week—and nine of the top 10 among adults 25-54 (TRMS ranks No. 6).

Below are the basic cable network rankers for this past week:

Week of Aug. 29 Ranker (Total Viewers) 

Week of Aug. 29 (Adults 25-54)