Week of Dec. 14 Basic Cable Ranker: Fox News Edges MSNBC in Total Day Viewers, CNN Remains No. 1 in Key Demo

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News Channel averaged the most total viewers on cable in prime time, and across the 24-hour day last week, while CNN ranked No. 1 on cable news among adults 25-54, the demo that advertisers of news prefer.

According to live-plus-same-day data from Nielsen for the week of Dec. 14, Fox News garnered nearly 2.4 million prime time viewers last week. That’s far more viewers than second place ESPN (2.1 million), but a -12% change from the prior week of Dec. 7.

FNC also averaged 1.29 million viewers in total day, which is -6% from the prior week, and only +11,000 more than second-place finisher MSNBC. Among adults 25-54, FNC was -4% in total day and -9% in prime time vs. the prior week.


Not a great week (by Fox News standards) after consecutive weeks of viewership growth.

Looking at the year-over-year trend— Compared to the week of Dec. 16 2019, Fox News continues to post growth across the board, and Fox News shows comprised 5 of the top 20 cable telecasts of the week in total viewers and delivered 6 telecasts with over 3 million viewers.

Tucker Carlson Tonight averaged 3.4 million total viewers last week, down from the previous week, but still more viewers than any other cable news show.

Anderson Cooper 360 was the top prime time cable news show of the week among adults 25-54, averaging 506,000 demo viewers; a hair more than The Rachel Maddow Show (505,600), whose total also includes Friday, when Maddow was off.

TRMS was the second-most-watched cable news show of the week in total viewers, followed by Sean Hannity’s 9 p.m. Fox News show. CNN’s Chris Cuomo had the No. 3 cable news show of the week among adults 25-54, behind Cooper and Maddow, but ahead of Hannity and Carlson.

Speaking of CNN, the network continued its hot streak in attracting the advertiser-preferred adults 25-54 demographic, not just across the total day, but also in the key prime time daypart. CNN dominated in the demo last month, and has continued to attract A25-54 viewers through December, as viewers turn to the network for its wall-to-wall coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

The network was -7% in total prime time viewers, and -6% in the prime time demo, but +3% in total day viewers and +2% in the total day demo. Compared to the same week in 2019, numbers remain great, something would might expect during an election year.

MSNBC finished No. 2 in total viewers across the 24-hour day, but was only -11,000 behind rival Fox News.

Relative to the week of Dec. 7, NBC’s politics-focused cable newser was -5% in total prime time viewers, -7% in the prime time demo, -1% in total day viewers, and -2% in total day demo. Relative to the same week in 2019, MSNBC remains strong, benefiting from a Biden win and continued in-depth coverage of the pandemic.

Week of Dec. 14, Monday-Sunday:

• Total Viewers: 2,442,000 1,695,000 2,057,000
• A25-54: 344,000 413,000 297,000




• Total Viewers: 1,293,000 1,252,000 1,282,000
• A25-54: 195,000 289,000 184,000




Week of Dec. 14 basic cable ranker (Total Viewers)