Week of August 28 Basic Cable Ranker: Fox News Maintains No. 1 Ranking During Quieter News Cycle

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN saw week-to-week viewership decline in the lead up to Labor Day weekend.

Nevertheless, with Nielsen live plus same day data for the week of August 28, 2023 officially in, Fox News remained in its usual position as the most-watched basic cable network, and the top-rated cable news network in total viewers and among Adults 25-54.

For the week, Fox News averaged more than 1.71 million viewers (No. 1 on basic cable) and 199,000 Adults 25-54 in primetime (No. 5 on basic cable). The 1.71 million is -39% and the 199,000 A25-54 average is -55% from what Fox averaged the previous week (Aug. 21).


To be fair, the week prior was highlighted by Fox News’ GOP primary debate broadcast, which is now the most-watched non-sports telecast of 2023 to-date. A week-to-week primetime Nielsen ratings decline for Fox News was inevitable.

In total day, FNC averaged 1.095 million total viewers — the largest total day audience on all of basic cable for the 35th consecutive week. However, that’s -17% from the week prior.  Additionally, the network averaged 130,000 A25-54 in total day, No. 2 among basic cable networks in the measurement (only behind ESPN)  but -28% from the week prior.

Elsewhere in the cable news universe, in total day, MSNBC averaged 860,000 total viewers and just 86,000 A25-54 for the week of Aug. 28.  That’s -15% and -28%, respectively, from the previous week. MSNBC’s 860,000 total viewer average is No. 2 on basic cable, while its 86,000 A25-54 average is No. 12 on basic cable.

In primetime, MSNBC averaged more than 1.35 million total viewers and 133,000 A25-54 viewers, -13% and -25%, respectively, relative to the week prior. The 1.35 million total viewer average places MSNBC at No. 3 on basic cable (behind Fox News and ESPN), whereas the 133,000 A25-54 average in primetime places MSNBC at No. 16 on basic cable (tied with Comedy Central).

CNN averaged 609,000 total viewers and 131,000 A25-54 viewers in primetime for the week of Aug. 28. That’s -27% and -27%, respectively, from what the network averaged the week before. The 609,000 total primetime viewer average places CNN at No. 10 on all of basic cable, while the 131,000 A25-54 average places CNN at No. 18.

In total day, CNN averaged 515,000 total viewers and 104,000 A25-54 viewers this past week, % and %, respectively, from the week before. The 515,000 total viewer average places CNN No. 4 on all of basic cable for the week, whereas the 104,000 A25-54 average places CNN also at No. 4 on all of basic cable for the week.

Again, the week-to-week ratings losses were expected. Fox News didn’t have another live GOP primary debate to broadcast, and CNN/MSNBC didn’t have more Trump live legal issues to cover, including the Georgia mugshot reveal which attracted so many viewers.

How did the big three cable newsers fare relative to the year-ago week of Aug. 29, 2022? Fox News posted year-over-year of -20% in total primetime viewers and -30% in the primetime demo. The network is also still trending in the wrong direction when it comes to total day viewing, shedding -23% in total day viewers and -37% in the total day demo. CNN and MSNBC delivered mixed results in primetime and in total day relative to a year-ago. MSNBC dropped -4% in total primetime viewers, -2% in the primetime demo, gained +3% in total day viewers but shed -3% in the total day demo from the same week in 2022. CNN shed -7% in total primetime viewers, -5% in the primetime demo, -3% in total day viewers but gained +5% in the total day demo from the week of Aug. 29, 2022.

Week of August 28 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):

• Total Viewers: 1,714,000 1,351,000 609,000
• A25-54: 199,000 133,000 131,000




• Total Viewers: 1,095,000 860,000 515,000
• A25-54: 130,000 86,000 104,000




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

Week of Aug. 28 (Total Viewers)

Week of Aug. 28 (Adults 25-54)


The Five moved back into first place this week after temporarily ceding the top spot to Hannity. At 5 p.m. ET, the network’s panel talk news offering averaged a cable news-high 2.75 million total viewers and 308,000 A25-54 viewers for the week of Aug. 28, 2023.

Fox News had the six most-watched daily cable news offerings for the week. Jesse Watters Primetime secured second place among all daily cable news shows with a 2.49 million total viewer average at 8 p.m. Hannity took third place with a 2.325 million total viewer average at 9 p.m., with The Ingraham Angle’s 2 million viewers at 7 p.m., and Gutfeld!’s 1.91 million viewers at 10 p.m. rounding out the top five.

Six through 10 in total viewers: Fox News’ Special Report With Bret Baier ( 1.905 million at 6 p.m.), with MSNBC shows The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell ( 1.87 million at 10 p.m.), Deadline: White House with Nicolle Wallace ( 1.61 million at 4-6 p.m.), Alex Wagner Tonight (1.60 million at 9 p.m.) and The Beat With Ari Melber (1.54 million at 6 p.m.) rounding out cable news’ 10 most-watched of the week.

Among Adults 25-54, The Five leads the daily cable news rankings with a 308,000 average, edging Hannity by only +1,000 viewers (307,000). Following The Five and Hannity are Gutfeld! (280,000), Jesse Watters Primetime (267,000), and The Ingraham Angle (211,000).

Six through 10 in the key A25-54 demo are Special Report With Bret Baier (185,000), The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell (178,000), Outnumbered (173,000 at 12 p.m. ET), (239,000), MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes (171,000 at 8 p.m.) and CNN’s The Lead With Jake Tapper (167,000) rounding out cable news top 10.

Below, the Cable News’ Top 15

*Data is from Nielsen and is live-plus-same-day format.