Week of Oct. 11 Cable Network Ranker: Fox News Marks 35 Weeks at No. 1 in Total Day Viewers; MLB Playoffs Lift TBS to No. 1 in Prime

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News Channel continues to attract tons of viewers across the 24-hour day. According to live-plus-same-day data from Nielsen, FNC averaged nearly 1.40 million total viewers in total day, making it No. 1 on basic cable in the category for the 35th consecutive week.  Fox News also averaged 226,000 adults 25-54 in total day, No. 3 on basic cable behind ESPN and a MLB playoffs-driven TBS. Relative to the previous week (Oct. 4), Fox News held flat in total day viewers and grew +1% in the total day demo.

In primetime, Fox News averaged 2.31 million total viewers (No. 3 on basic cable) and 356,000 adults 25-54 (also No. 3 on basic cable) last week. The network averaged fewer total viewers and adults 25-54 in primetime than sports-driven TBS, and ESPN. However, FNC continues to average more viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined. The network also grew +1% in average total viewers and +1% among adults 25-54 from what the network averaged in those two measurements in primetime the prior week.

Carried by its broadcasts of MLB’s 2021 NLDS and NLCS, TBS moved past ESPN and into the No. 1 spot in primetime, both in total viewers (3.17 million) and among adults 25-54 (1.21 million). ESPN finished No. 2 in both measurements during primetime (1.13 million adults 25-54/2.6 million total viewers)

Tucker Carlson Tonight marked its second consecutive week as the No. 1 cable news show (3.11 million total viewers/490,000 adults 25-54). Fox News’ The Five remained No. 2 in average total viewers (3.0 million). Hannity remained the No. 3 cable news show in average total viewers ( 2.71 million), followed by Special Report with Bret Baier (2.22 million) and for the first time, Fox News Primetime guest-hosted by Jesse Watters rounded out the cable news’ top five in total viewers (2.18 million). Fox News had 13 of the 15-most-watched shows on cable news for the second consecutive week. MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show finished No. 7 in total viewers, and was once again the top non-Fox News show on cable news, averaging 2.06 million total viewers for the week.

The aforementioned MSNBC averaged 1.21 million total primetime viewers (No. 4 on basic cable), and 145,000 adults 25-54 in prime time (No. 24 on basic cable) this past week. That’s flat in total viewers and +1% in the key A25-54 demo from what the network drew in those measurements in primetime the previous week.  MSNBC struggled more in total day, averaging 676,000 total viewers in the 6 a.m.-6 a.m. total day daypart (No.4 overall), but only 74,000 adults 25-54 (No. 30 overall) this past week. That’s -2% in average total day audience and -11% in the total day demo from the previous week. The network also had its lowest-rated weekend since August 1997. MSNBC beat CNN in average total viewers, but came up short among adults 25-54, both in total day and in primetime.

CNN averaged 661,000 total viewers in prime time (No. 10 on basic cable) and 481,000 in total day (No. 6 on basic cable) during the week of Oct. 11. When it came to adults 25-54, CNN averaged 145,000 viewers in primetime (No. 22 ) and 102,000 in total day (No. 16 on basic cable). How do those figures stack up against the previous week? Well, the findings are mixed. Compared to the prior week, CNN lost -5% of its average total primetime audience, but gained adults 25-54 in primetime (+10%). The network shed -5% in total day viewers but gained +1% in the total day demo. CNN managed to average more adults 25-54 in total day and in prime than MSNBC, but failed to match its main rival in average total viewers across the dayparts.

Week of Oct. 11, 2021 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):

• Total Viewers: 1,399,000 676,000 481,000
• A25-54: 226,000 74,000 102,000




• Total Viewers: 2,307,000 1,209,000 661,000
• A25-54: 356,000 140,000 145,000




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

Week of Oct. 11 (Total Viewers) 

Second, the cable network ranker, sorted by most to fewest adults 25-54. The left column is primetime, the right is total day.

Week of Oct. 11 (Adults 25-54)