Week of Dec. 26 Cable Ranker: Fox News Sees Streak End But Remains No. 1 on Cable News; CNN, MSNBC Post Year-Over-Year Gains

By A.J. Katz 

The final calendar week of 2022 meant the end of an impressive streak for Fox News. After 51 consecutive weeks at No. 1 in total day viewers, FNC fell to No. 2 in the category, behind only ESPN, which was in the heart of its college football bowl season.

In addition to finishing No. 2 in total day viewers for the first time since the final week of the 2021 calendar, Fox News remained the second-most-watched basic cable network in primetime, according to live plus same day data from Nielsen. Only ESPN is ahead.

That said, Fox News continues its dominance over its cable news competition in average total viewership — 98 consecutive weeks as the most-watched network on cable news.


FNC averaged 1.1 million viewers and 134,000 adults 25-54 in total day (No. 6 on basic cable) during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. That’s a decline from what the network averaged in those two categories the previous week (Dec. 19), which of course was a non-holiday week.

Fox News remained No. 2 on basic cable in total primetime viewers (1.34 million), but tumbled to No. 19 spot in A25-54 viewing, averaging just 136,000 demo viewers. That’s fewer than CNN but still more than MSNBC. Part of the reason for the decline is its regular primetime hosts were given some time off, something which traditionally puts a dent in ratings.

Relative to the same week in 2021, when TV viewing conditions were similar, Fox News dropped by -23% in total primetime viewers, a whopping -41% in the primetime demo, -28% in the total day demo but managed to gain +5% in total day viewers, as FNC daytime shows continue a strong run, particularly among older audiences.

Shifting elsewhere in the cable news universe, MSNBC averaged 831,000 total viewers and 79,000 A25-54 in primetime during holiday week, down from the prior week.  In total day, the network averaged 632,000 total viewers and only 67,000 A25-54 viewers during holiday, again down from the prior non-holiday week. Looking from a year-over-year trend basis, MSNBC’s trend is actually quite good. The network gained +7% in total primetime viewers, +5% in the primetime demo, and double digits in total day viewing, up +19% in total viewers and +16% in the total day demo vs. the week of Dec. 27, 2021.

MSNBC still ranks No. 34 in primetime A25-54 viewers, No. 28 in the total day demo, in addition to being No. 6 total primetime viewers and No. 4 in total day viewers for the week of Dec. 26.

CNN zaw some growth during holiday week, driven by its special New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen broadcast, which drew an impressive three million viewers at its peak during the 11 p.m.-12:30 a.m. ET time period.

The network as a whole averaged 688,000 total viewers and 183,000 adults 25-54 in primetime during holiday week, substantially up from what the network drew in those measurements the prior week. In total day, CNN averaged 558,000 total viewers and 124,000 viewers, also substantially up from recent weeks.

Looking at CNN performance relative to the year-ago week, the network actually shed -7% in total primetime viewers, but saw gains in other measurements, including the key primetime demo (+8%), total day viewers (+5%) and the total day demo (+13%).

For the week of Dec. 26, CNN climbs to No. 10 in total primetime viewers and No. 9 in the primetime demo, No. 5 in total day viewers and No. 9 in the total day demo.

After ESPN and Fox News, Paramount Network (driven by Yellowstone), Hallmark, HGTV, MSNBC, TBS, TLC, INSP and CNN round out the 10-most-watched in primetime. ESPN and Fox also lead in total day viewers, followed by Hallmark, MSNBC, CNN, Paramount, HGTV, ID, INSP and Food Network.

Among adults 25-54, ESPN and Paramount Network lead the charge in primetime, followed by TBS, TLC, Hallmark, USA, FX, HGTV, CNN and A&E. Among adults 25-54 in total day, ESPN and TBS are followed by Paramount Network, Hallmark Channnel, USA, Fox News, ID, Comedy Central, CNN and Food Network.

Week of Dec. 26 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen Live+SD data):

• Total Viewers: 1,341,000 831,000 688,000
• A25-54: 136,000 79,000 183,000




• Total Viewers: 1,102,000 632,000 558,000
• A25-54: 134,000 67,000 124,000




Basic Cable Ranker: Week of Dec. 26 (Total Viewers)

Basic Cable Ranker: Week of Dec. 26 (Adults 25-54)