Week of May 31 Basic Cable Ranker: Fox News Marks 16 Consecutive Weeks as Most-Watched in Total Day, But Remains Second in Prime Time

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News was the most-watched basic cable network in total day for the 16th consecutive week, and the second-most-watched cable network in prime time. Fox finished behind TNT, which is earning big ratings from its broadcasts of the 2021 NBA Playoffs.

FNC averaged just under 2 million viewers (1.97 million) and 296,000 in the 25-54 demo during the 8-11 p.m. ET prime time period. It averaged 1.1 million total viewers and 189,000 adults 25-54 in the 6 a.m.-6 a.m. daypart.

As has become the norm in recent months, Tucker Carlson Tonight drew the largest audience on cable news last week, averaging 2.7 million total viewers to go with 442,000 adults 25-54. TCT drew 2.8 million total viewers and 454,000 adults 25-54 the previous week.


The network also debuted two weekend programs this past week, Unfiltered with Dan Bongino (Saturdays at 10 p.m. ET) and Sunday Night in America with Trey Gowdy (Sundays at 7 p.m.). Unfiltered ended up being the top-rated cable news program of the weekend, while Sunday Night in America was No. 1 in the 7 p.m. time slot.

Compared with the previous week (May 24), Fox News grew by +1% in average total prime time viewers, but shed -5% in the prime time demo. In total day, Fox News lost -3% in average total viewers, and -4% in adults 25-54.

CNN saw slight growth in total prime time viewers from the prior week (+2%). However, it shed viewers in other demos and dayparts. The network shed -4% in the prime time demo, -1% in total day viewers and -7% in the total day demo from the prior week. CNN held steady as the 5th-most-watched network on basic cable in total day, but fell from No. 9 in total prime time viewers down to No. 12, despite seeing week-to-week audience growth in the measurement.

MSNBC beat CNN in average total viewers, while CNN beat MSNBC in the adults 25-54 demo, although both networks experienced their lowest-rated weeks in the demo since December 2019.

The aforementioned MSNBC finished No. 3 on basic cable in prime time viewers for the second consecutive week, finishing behind Fox News and TNT. The network also finished No. 3 in total viewers across the 24-hour daypart (6 a.m.-6 a.m. ET).

That said, MSNBC posted week-to-week losses in prime time for the second consecutive week. The network dropped by -7% in total prime time viewers, and -7% in the prime time demo. MSNBC also dropped -7% in total day viewers and -5% in adults 25-54.

Week of May 31 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):

• Total Viewers: 1,974,000 1,261,000 779,000
• A25-54: 296,000 158,000 168,000




• Total Viewers: 1,107,000 751,000 554,000
• A25-54: 189,000 98,000 120,000




How about the broader basic cable landscape? After TNT and Fox News, MSNBC, HGTV, ESPN, TBS, NBCSN, Hallmark Channel, TLC, and Discovery rounded out the 10-most-watched basic cable networks for the week in prime time.

Fox News, TNT, MSNBC, HGTV, CNN, ESPN, ID, Food Network, INSP, and Hallmark Channel rounded out the 10-most-watched basic cable networks in total day last week.

Below, the full weekly rankers:

Week of May 31 basic cable ranker (Total Viewers)


Week of May 31 basic cable ranker (Adults 25-54)