Fox News Channel and ESPN split the basic cable Nielsen ratings race this past week, with FNC averaging the largest total audience and ESPN hauling in the most adults 25-54.
According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data for the week of Jan. 17, 2022, Fox News averaged 2.43 million total viewers in primetime, which is No. 1 on basic cable and +6% from the previous week. FNC averaged 356,000 adults 25-54 in primetime, which is +3% from the week before and No. 2 on all of basic cable. ESPN finished No. 1 in the primetime demo this past week, averaging 871,000 viewers.
Additionally, Fox News averaged 1.51 million total viewers in total day during the week of Jan. 17, 2022, making it the most-watched network on basic cable in the Monday-Sunday 6 a.m.-6 a.m. time period yet again. FNC also averaged 243,000 adults 25-54 in total day this past week, placing it at No. 2 on basic cable behind ESPN (323,000). How do FNC’s figures look relative to the previous week? (Jan. 10, ’22) The network grew +4% in average total day viewers and +5% in total day adults 25-54—and averaged more total viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined for the 23rd consecutive week.
MSNBC ranked No. 3 on basic cable in total viewers in total day and primetime for the third consecutive week. The network averaged 1.19 million total viewers in primetime (-5% from the prior week) and 670,000 viewers in total day (-3% from the prior week). MSNBC averaged 134,000 in primetime (-6% week-to-week) and 78,000 in total day (+4% week to week). The network ranked No. 26 in the primetime demo and No. 26 in the total day demo during the week of Jan. 17.
MSNBC beat CNN in average total viewers and edged CNN in the primetime demo. However, as is traditionally the case, the network fell short of CNN in the total day demo.
CNN experienced a subpar ratings week. The network averaged just 578,000 total viewers in primetime (-3% week to week), which is No. 14 on basic cable, and 129,000 viewers from the primetime demo (-2% week to week), No. 27 on basic cable. Additionally, CNN averaged 474,000 total viewers in total day (-2% week to week)—good enough for No. 9 on basic cable—and 96,000 adults 25-54 in total day (-3% week to week), placing it at No. 22 on basic cable.
CNN beat MSNBC in the total day demo, but fell short to MSNBC in the primetime demo and in total viewers.
CNN, MSNBC and Fox News all saw losses in primetime from the year-ago week. CNN saw the steepest losses, both in total day viewers (-77%) and in total primetime viewers (-80%). To be fair, CNN was delivering network-record ratings at this time in 2021, achieving a No. 1 ranking on basic cable during what was President Biden’s inauguration week. MSNBC shed -63% in total day viewers and -57% in total primetime viewers from the comparable week in 2021, while Fox News—which finished behind CNN and MSNBC during the year-ago week—shed just -8% in total primetime viewers and -17% in the primetime demo. Fox News posted year-over-year growth in average total viewers (+8%), but a slight loss in the total day demo (-1%).
The Five, which was the most-watched show on cable news in Q4 of last year, was also the most-watched show on cable news this past week, averaging 3.74 million total viewers in the 5 p.m. hour. The Five also averaged the most adults 25-54 on cable news last week, averaging 542,000 at 5 p.m.
Tucker Carlson Tonight was the second-most-watched cable news show of the week (3.39 million), followed by Hannity (3.17 million), Special Report with Bret Baier (2.71 million) and The Ingraham Angle (2.31 million) rounding the top five in average total viewers.
After The Five, Tucker Carlson Tonight was also the No. 2 cable news show of the week among adults 25-54 (530,000), Hannity (449,000), Special Report (406,000) and The Ingraham Angle (377,000). In fact, Fox News had the top 11 cable news shows of the week when it came to adults 25-54.
MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show was the top non-Fox show of the week, both in total viewers (No. 7) and among adults 25-54 (No. 12).
Week of Jan. 17, 2022 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):
|• Total Viewers:||2,427,000||1,187,000||578,000|
|TOTAL DAY||Fox News||MSNBC||CNN|
|• Total Viewers:||1,513,000||670,000||474,000|
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.).
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.