Week of March 9 Cable Ranker: Fox News Is Most-Watched, CNN No. 1 in Prime-Time Demo

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News and CNN were go-to networks for coverage of the coronavirus pandemic last week, the week of March 9. MSNBC wasn’t far behind.

FNC remained No. 1 in Total Viewers in the 6 a.m.-6 a.m. daypart, for the 10th consecutive week. In addition to hauling in roughly 2 million total viewers in the daypart, FNC averaged 389,000 A25-54, the network’s second-largest demo average of 2020 to-date.

In prime time, FNC garnered 3.6 million viewers and 657,000 viewers in the A25-54 demo, notching its 8th consecutive week besting basic cable in total viewers.


Lastly, Hannity delivered his second-most-watched week since the program’s inception. Presentations of Hannity, Tucker Carlson Tonight,The Ingraham Angle, The Five, and Special Report, comprised five of the top six telecasts in cable news in total viewers; with the CNN Democratic primary debate being No. 1. But we’ll get to that shortly.

Given a huge boost by its highly-rated prime time debate at the end of the week, as well as COVID-19 coverage throughout, CNN was the second-most-watched basic cable network and the No. 1 basic cable network in Adults 25-54 last week.

MSNBC was the No. 3 network on basic cable last week, both in prime time and in the 6 a.m.-6 a.m. daypart. Similar to its competition, MSNBC posted year-over-year Total Viewers growth, though its growth wasn’t as substantial as that of FNC/CNN.

Speaking of year-over-year, the same week in 2019, of course, did not include wall-to-wall coverage of a global pandemic,nor did it include a CNN Democratic primary debate. As a result, it’s no surprise that the big three cable news networks posted year-over-year viewership growth. See below

Week of March 9:

Basic Cable Top 5 – Prime Time (Total Viewers) / YoY
1. Fox News (3,594,000) / +51%
2. CNN (2,849,000) / +156%
3. MSNBC (2,346,000) / +26%
4. HGTV (1,114,000)
5. TBS (1,089,000)

Basic Cable Top 5 – Total Day (Total Viewers) / YoY
1. Fox News (1,992,000) / +45%
2. CNN (1,322,000) / +107%
3. MSNBC (1,295,000) / 24%
4. HGTV (668,000)
5. Nickelodeon (560,000)

Cable News Audience (A25-54) / YoY

• CNN – Prime Time (918,000)  +291% / Total Day (408,000)  +140%
• FNC – Prime Time (657,000) +64% / Total Day (389,000) +60%
• MSNBC – Prime Time (419,000) +36% / Total Day (223,000) +32%

Here’s the full Nielsen basic cable network ranker, sorted by Total Viewers:

Basic cable ranker: Week of March 9 (Total Viewers) by Adweek on Scribd