Week of Dec. 27 Basic Cable Ranker: Fox News Remains Dominant Cable News Network, But Sheds Adults 25-54

By A.J. Katz 

Nielsen ratings for most regularly-scheduled cable news programming fell during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. The reasons are likely two-fold: a preponderance of guest-hosts, and many regular news viewers opting for ESPN’s college football bowl game broadcasts, as well as Hallmark Channel movies, and Paramount Network’s Yellowstone.

According to live-plus-same-day data from Nielsen, Fox News Channel averaged 1.225 million total viewers in total day during the week of Dec. 27, 2021, making it the second-most-watched basic cable network in the Monday-Sunday 6 a.m.-6 a.m. time period—and ending its streak as the most-watched basic cable network in total day at 45 weeks. Fox also averaged 187,000 adults 25-54 in total day during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, placing it at No. 3 on basic cable behind ESPN (1.19 million) and Paramount (206,000). The network lost -6% in average total day viewers and -11% in total day adults 25-54 from the previous week (Dec. 20).

In primetime, Fox News averaged 1.75 million total viewers, No. 2 on basic cable behind ESPN (8.46 million total viewers), which thrives in late-December/early-January from its college football bowl game broadcasts airing morning, noon and night. Fox News actually fell out of the basic cable top 10 in the primetime demo, averaging 232,000 last week, placing it at No. 11. Relative to the prior week (leading up to Christmas), Fox lost -6% in average total primetime viewers and -17% in the primetime demo.

That said, Fox News averaged more total viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined for the 20th consecutive week.

On the programming front, Fox News’ The Five remained the most-watched cable news show of the week, averaging 2.95 million total viewers and 395,000 adults 25-54 in the 5 p.m. hour. The Five has finished No. 1 on cable news in total viewers four consecutive weeks, a notable achievement for a program airing outside of primetime. Tucker Carlson Tonight ranked No. 2 last week, both in total viewers (2.47 million) and among adults 25-54 (332,000). TCT featured guest hosts throughout the week. Special Report with Bret Baier was No. 3 on cable news during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, averaging with 2.1 million total viewers and 301,000 A25-54. Hannity, which featured fill-in hosts throughout the week, finished fourth. The network’s 9 p.m. offering averaged just under 2.1 million viewers and 286,000 in the 25-54 demo.

MSNBC fell outside of the top 5 in total viewers, finishing No. 8 in primetime with a 774,000 total viewer average. The network averaged just 75,000 adults 25-54 in prime time, No. 53 on basic cable. Relative to the previous week, the network lost -24% in average total viewers and -29% in the key A25-54 demo in primetime. MSNBC also averaged 531,000 total day viewers (No. 6 overall) and 58,000 adults 25-54 (No. 40 overall) in the Monday-Sunday 6 a.m.-6 a.m. total day time period this past week. That’s -12% in total viewers and -12% among the A25-54 demo from the previous week.

MSNBC delivered its lowest-rated week among adults 25-54 (in total day and in primetime) since 1999.

Unlike Fox News and MSNBC, CNN managed to post week-to-week ratings growth, carried by its New Year’s Eve broadcast, which drew more than 2.1 million viewers (down from the previous year’s broadcast). CNN averaged 743,000 total viewers in prime time (No. 11 on basic cable) and 529,000 total viewers in total day (No. 7 on basic cable) during the week of Dec. 27. When it came to adults 25-54, the network averaged 170,000 in primetime (No. 19 on basic cable ) and 110,000 in total day (No. 19 on basic cable). Those figures represent +16% growth in total day viewers and +20% in the total day demo from the previous week. CNN also gained +51% in average total primetime viewers and +56% in the primetime demo from the previous week. CNN’s significant gains in primetime were driven by the aforementioned New Year’s Eve special, co-hosted by Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen.

Week of Dec. 27, 2021 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):

TOTAL DAY Fox News MSNBC CNN
• Total Viewers: 1,225,000 531,000 529,000
• A25-54: 187,000 58,000 110,000

 

 

 

PRIME Fox News MSNBC CNN
• Total Viewers: 1,749,000 774,000 743,000
• A25-54: 232,000 75,000 170,000

 

 

 

Below, the most-watched basic cable networks for the week. The left column is ranked by most to fewest average total primetime viewers, and the right column is ranked by most to fewest average total viewers across total day (6 a.m-6 a.m.).

Week of Dec. 27, 2021 (Total Viewers)

Here’s a second cable network ranker, sorted by most to fewest adults 25-54. The left column is primetime, the right is total day.

Week of Dec. 27 (Adults 25-54)

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