Week of August 14 Basic Cable Ranker: Fox News Wins Full Week; MSNBC Averages Largest Total Day Audience Since March ’21

By A.J. Katz 

With Nielsen live plus same day data for the week of August 14, 2023 is now in, Fox News Channel remained in its usual position as the most-watched basic cable network and the top-rated cable news network for the full Nielsen week in total viewers and among Adults 25-54.

But the margin was close: Fox averaged just +32,000 more total primetime viewers than MSNBC and only +98,000 more total day viewers than MSNBC. An MSNBC win in total day would have broken an 131-week winning streak for Fox News in the measurement and daypart.

Fox News averaged 1.64 million viewers and 182,000 Adults 25-54 in primetime this past. That’s the largest average audience and the No. 7-ranked A25-54 audience on basic cable. It also happens to be -9% and -1%, respectively, versus what the network averaged the previous week (Aug. 7).


In total day viewing, Fox News averaged 1.10 million total viewers. That’s the largest total day audience on all of basic cable for the 33rd consecutive week, but -3% from the week prior.  Additionally, Fox averaged 132,000 A25-54 in total day, No. 3 among basic cable networks in the measurement and a +3% gain from the week prior.

MSNBC put up massive numbers early in the week, carried by its live breaking news coverage on Monday of former President Donald Trump‘s grand jury indictment in Georgia. In fact, MSNBC’s Monday 9 p.m. hour, which fortuitously for MSNBC featured a live Rachel Maddow interview with Hillary Clinton, was the ninth-most-watched hour across all of U.S. TV for the week (3.9 million total viewers).

The week of Aug. 14 was MSNBC’s most-watched week in total day since March 2021. It also delivered significant numbers in weekday prime (Monday-Friday). Its two million viewer average in the daypart is its largest since July 2022 (the Jan. 6 insurrection hearings), while its 228,000 A25-54 viewer average in the daypart is the largest since December 2022 (Georgia run-off election).

For the full Nielsen week of Aug. 14, MSNBC  averaged one million total day viewers and 116,000 A25-54 in total day.  That’s +13% and +20%, respectively, from the previous week. MSNBC’s one million total viewer average is No. 2 on basic cable, while its 116,000 A25-54 average is No. 5 on basic cable.

In primetime, MSNBC averaged 1.61 million total viewers and 178,000 A25-54 viewers, +11% and +24%, respectively, relative to the week prior, and only -4,000 fewer total primetime viewers than Fox News. The 1.61 million total viewer average places MSNBC at No. 2 on basic cable, whereas the 178,000 A25-54 average in primetime places MSNBC at No. 10 on basic cable.

CNN delivered a strong viewing trend as well, as one would assume when there’s a significant breaking news event. The network averaged 770,000 total viewers and 145,000 A25-54 viewers in primetime this past week, +32% and +14%, respectively, from the week before. The 770,000 total primetime viewer average places CNN at No. 5 on all of basic cable, while the 145,000 A25-54 average places CNN at No. 14 on all of basic cable.

In total day, CNN averaged 551,000 total viewers and 103,000 A25-54 viewers this past week, up +13% and +5%, respectively, from the week before. The 551,000 total viewer average places CNN No. 3 on all of basic cable for the week (behind only behind rivals Fox News and MSNBC), whereas the 103,000 A25-54 average places CNN at No. 8 on all of basic cable for the week.

How did the big three cable newsers fare relative to the year-ago week (a comparably quiet week of Aug. 15, 2022)? Fox News is -30% in total primetime viewers, -42% in the primetime demo, -26% in total day viewers and -37% in the total day demo. CNN is +3% in total primetime viewers, but shed -3% in the primetime demo, -2% in total day viewers and -4% in the total day demo, despite the heavy news cycle at the start of the week. MSNBC continues to trend well. The network is +18% in total primetime viewers, +40% in the primetime demo, +22% in total day viewers and +33% in the total day demo vs. the same week in 2022.

Week of August 14 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):

• Total Viewers: 1,638,000 1,606,000 770,000
• A25-54: 182,000 178,000 145,000




• Total Viewers: 1,100,000 1,002,000 551,000
• A25-54: 132,000 116,000 103,000




On the programming front,

The Five is No. 1 daily cable news program for the 14th consecutive week, averaging 2.60 million total viewers at 5 p.m. for the week of August 14. MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, which now airs Mondays-only, delivered the most total viewers of any cable news broadcast, daily or weekly (3.9 million at 9 p.m.)

MSNBC’s The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell secured second place among all daily cable news shows this past week with a 2.20 total viewer average at 10 p.m. Hannity was the third most-watched cable news program of the week with a 2.12 million viewer average at 9 p.m. Gutfeld! averaged 1.86 million viewers at 10 p.m., while Jesse Watters Primetime, which was fronted by guest-hosts throughout the week, secured fifth place on cable news with a 1.84 million viewer average at 8 p.m.

Six through 10 in total viewers: MSNBC’s The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle (1.82 million at 11 p.m.), Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle (1.81 million at 7 p.m.), Special Report with Bret Baier (1.79 million at 6 p.m.), Deadline: White House with Nicolle Wallace (1.75 million from 4-6 p.m.), and All In with Chris Hayes (1.73 million at 8 p.m.).

The Five leads the daily cable news rankings in A25-54 viewing (281,000). followed by Gutfeld! (269,000), The 11th Hour (240,000), Hannity (239,000), The Last Word (239,000). Six through 10 in the key A25-54 demo are CNN Primetime  (200,000 at 10 p.m.), All In (198,000), Jesse Watters Primetime (185,000), The Beat with Ari Melber (183,000) and Fox News at Night with Trace Gallagher (177,000).

On the morning front, MSNBC’s Morning Joe ranked No. 1 across all of cable from 6-9 a.m. in both total viewers and Adults 25-54 last week. Its 1.2 million total viewer average was the show’s largest since March 2021. Additionally, with 142,000 Adults 25-54, Morning Joe earned its largest advantage over CNN in the demo in more than 10 years and its largest advantage over Fox & Friends in both total viewers and A25-54 since February 2021.

Below, the top 20:

Lastly, below are the basic cable network rankers — sorted by average total viewers followed by Adults 25-54.

Week of August 14 (Total Viewers)

Week of August 14 (Adults 25-54)