Week of Dec. 6 Basic Cable Ranker: Ratings Drop, But Fox News Continues to Dominate Cable News Competition

By A.J. Katz 

According to live-plus-same-day data from Nielsen, Fox News Channel averaged 1.47 million total viewers in total day during the week of Dec. 6, 2021, making it the most-watched basic cable network in the Monday-Sunday 6 a.m.-6 a.m. time period for the 43rd consecutive week. The network also averaged 239,000 adults 25-54 in total day, No. 2 on basic cable only behind ESPN (357,000).

Relative to the previous week in the time period, FNC shed -1% in average total day viewers and -2% in adults 25-54.

In primetime, Fox News averaged 2.35 million total viewers, No. 2 on basic cable behind ESPN (2.6 million). The network also averaged 367,000 adults 25-54 last week, which is No. 3 on basic cable, behind ESPN (1.15 million) and holiday movie-driven Freeform (392,000).

Relative to the prior week (Nov. 29), Fox shed -5% in average total primetime viewers and -2% in the primetime demo. Additionally, Fox News averaged more viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined for the 17th straight week. That’s a wild stat.

On the programming front, The Five was the most-watched cable news show of the week, averaging 3.38 million total viewers in the 5 p.m. hour. The panel program ranked No. 2 on cable news in the key A25-54 demo (477,000). Tucker Carlson Tonight was No. 1 on cable news last week among adults 25-54 (529,000) and No. 2 in total viewers (3.18 million) at 8 p.m. Hannity was third in cable news across the board, with 2.70 million viewers and 427,000 in the 25-54 demo. Special Report with Bret Baier was the fourth with 2.64 million total viewers and 392,000 A25-54. The Ingraham Angle came in fifth, averaging 2.23 million total viewers and 359,000 adults 25-54.

Fox also had 14 of the top 15 cable news shows in total viewers, including the top six and 14 of the top 15 cable news shows among adults 25-54, including the top 12.

MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show was the top-rated non-Fox News show last week, averaging 2.05 million total viewers and 255,000 adults 25-54 at 9 p.m. It was the seventh-most-watched cable news show and No. 13 among adults 25-54 on cable news last week.

The aforementioned MSNBC averaged 1.16 million total primetime viewers (No. 4 on basic cable) and 131,000 adults 25-54 in prime time (No. 27 on basic cable) this past week. Relative to the previous week, the network shed -4% in average total viewers and -6% in the key A25-54 demo in primetime. MSNBC also averaged 684,000 total viewers (No. 4 overall) and 74,000 adults 25-54 (No. 29 overall) in the Monday-Sunday 6 a.m.-6 a.m. total day time period this past week. That’s -3% in total viewers and -8% among the A25-54 demo from the previous week.

MSNBC beat CNN in average total viewers, both total day and primetime and also in the primetime demo this past week. However, it came up short to CNN when it came to adults 25-54 in total day.

Speaking of CNN, the network averaged 585,000 total viewers in prime time (No. 17 on basic cable) and 501,000 total viewers in total day (No. 6 on basic cable) during the week of Dec. 6. And when it came to adults 25-54, the network averaged just 120,000 in primetime (No. 31 ) and 101,000 in total day (No. 20 on basic cable). Those figures represent a -4% drop in total day viewers and -9% in the total day demo from the previous week. The story in primetime was worse. The network fell -13% in average total primetime viewers and a whopping -21% in the primetime demo from the previous week. Additionally, CNN had its second-lowest-rated Sunday primetime since 1997 and CNN Tonight, guest-hosted by Michael Smerconish at 9 p.m. ET, averaged 616,000 viewers and 142,000 adults 25-54. This was the least-watched week for CNN’s 9 p.m. timeslot in 2021 to-date.

CNN did manage to average more adults 25-54 than MSNBC in total day. So at least there’s that.

Week of Nov. 29, 2021 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):

TOTAL DAY Fox News MSNBC CNN
• Total Viewers: 1,474,000 684,000 501,000
• A25-54: 239,000 74,000 101,000

 

 

 

PRIME Fox News MSNBC CNN
• Total Viewers: 2,353,000 1,160,000 585,000
• A25-54: 367,000 131,000 120,000

 

 

 

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. 6 (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. 6 (Adults 25-54)

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