Week of Aug. 30 Basic Cable Ranker: Fox News Marks 29 Consecutive Weeks as Most-Watched Across 24-Hour Day

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News Channel was the most-watched network on basic cable during the week of Aug. 30, both in total day and primetime dayparts. In addition to finishing No. 1 in average total viewers, Fox News also finished No.1 on basic cable in the total day demo, but dropped to second place in the primetime demo behind ESPN. And with football back in primetime, it will be tough for ESPN to relinquish that top ranking among the primetime demo (pending a massive breaking news event, of course).

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, Fox News averaged 2.64 million total viewers and 434,000 adults 25-54 in primetime last week. While far more than the competition, that’s -15% and -22%, respectively, from what the network averaged the previous week in those measurements. To be fair, the week of Aug. 23 was a big week for Fox News featuring wall-to-wall coverage of the conflict in Afghanistan.

In addition to primetime, Fox News averaged 1.55 million total viewers in total day (-17% from the prior week), marking 29 consecutive weeks as the most-watched cable news network in the 6 a.m.-6 a.m. daypart. The network also averaged 259,000 adults 25-54 in total day, which is -22% from the prior week.


Tucker Carlson Tonight was the most-watched show on cable news last week, averaging 3.75 million total viewers and 660,000 adults 25-54 in the 8 p.m. hour.

Hannity (3.48 million), The Five (3.37 million), The Ingraham Angle (2.77 million) and Special Report with Bret Baier (2.43 million) rounded out cable news’ five-most-watched shows for the week.

MSNBC averaged 1.26 million total primetime viewers (No. 2), and 145,000 adults 25-54 in prime time (No. 26), -11% and -22%, respectively, from what the network drew in those measurements the previous week.

MSNBC remained the second-most-watched basic cable network in the daypart (744,000 total viewers), yet finished No. 26 among adults 25-54 during total day (84,000) this past week. The network shed -6% in average total day audience and -17% in the total day demo from the previous week.

MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show was the No. 6 cable news show of the week in total viewers, averaging 2.39 million.

CNN averaged 876,000 total viewers in prime time (No. 7 basic cable) and 653,000 in total day (No. 3 on basic cable) during the week of Aug. 30. When it came to adults 25-54, CNN finished No. 14 in primetime (202,000) and No. 7 in total day (145,000) this past week.

How do those figures stack up against the previous week? Not great, as expected. The network lost -9% of its average total primetime audience, -13% in the primetime demo, -13% in total day viewers and -14% in the total day demo.

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

Week of Aug. 30 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):

• Total Viewers: 2,642,000 1,260,000 876,000
• A25-54: 434,000 145,000 202,000




• Total Viewers: 1,548,000 744,000 653,000
• A25-54: 259,000 84,000 145,000




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, INSP, CNN, Hallmark Channel, USA and ESPN2. In terms of most-watched cable nets in total day, Fox News, MSNBC and CNN lead the way for the third consecutive week. They’re followed by ESPN, HGTV, INSP, Hallmark Channel, ID, Food Network and USA.

Week of Aug. 30 (Total Viewers)

ESPN was the top-rated basic cable network in primetime among adults 25-54. Fox News took second, and followed by TBS, USA, TLC, TNT, HGTV, Adult Swim, Food Network and Discovery. Among adults 25-54 in total day, Fox News finished No. 1, and followed by ESPN, HGTV, ID, Food Network, TBS, CNN, TNT, USA and Comedy Central rounding out the top 10.

Week of Aug. 30 (Adults 25-54)