Week of Oct. 19 Cable Network Ranker: Tucker Carlson’s Most-Watched Week Leads Fox News to No. 1

By A.J. Katz 

During the week of Oct. 19, Fox News averaged more total viewers than any other basic cable network. In total day (6 a.m.-6 a.m.), the network averaged 2.4 million viewers, its fourth-largest audience in the daypart this year. The network also averaged 5.3 million in prime time, its second-largest audience in the daypart this year.

That’s according to live-plus-same-day data from Nielsen.

Fox News’ especially strong ratings performance was driven by significant viewership for its presidential debate coverage (15.4 million viewers—No. 1 across all of TV) and wall-to-wall coverage of the Democratic challenger’s son Hunter Biden and his alleged business activities.


Relative to the prior week, which featured the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on President Trump’s nomination to the United States Supreme Court, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Fox News was +2% in total viewers and +11% in the demo in total day.

Moving to prime time, Tucker Carlson Tonight was the most-watched show on cable news last week, averaging an audience of 5.7 million viewers and 1.1 million in the 25-54 demo. If those numbers look huge that’s because they are; last week was Carlson’s most-watched week ever.

Hannity took second place across cable news, both in total viewers (5.4 million) and among adults 25-54 (1.1 million). Those numbers propelled Hannity to its second-highest-rated week of all time, coming behind only the week of the 2020 RNC.

As a network, Fox News was +23% in total prime-time viewers and +43% in the prime-time demo this past week versus the prior week.

CNN averaged 2.45 million total viewers in prime time, No. 3 behind both Fox News and MSNBC, and No. 3 on all of basic cable. CNN also averaged 744,000 25-54 in prime time, behind Fox News but far ahead of MSNBC.

The ratings trend was good for CNN from the prior week, thanks to having a presidential debate to cover on Thursday. Compared to the week of Oct. 12, CNN was +31% in total prime-time viewers and +61% in the prime-time demo.

In total day, CNN averaged 1.3 million total viewers, No. 3 behind its competitors (and No. 3 on all of cable). CNN continues to beat MSNBC in adults 25-54, doing so last week in total day (349,000 versus 247,000).

The network was up double digits in total day viewership, +15% in total viewers and +21% in the demo.

MSNBC, NBC’s politics-focused cable newser, was the second-most-watched network, not just on cable news, but across cable for the week. The network averaged 2.7 million total viewers in prime time, which is +17% from the prior week, as well as 1.5 million total viewers in total day, which is +11% from the prior week.

MSNBC, which skews older than CNN (and now appears to be skewing older than Fox News), finished No. 3 across cable news among adults 25-54, both in total day and in prime time.


Nielsen live-plus-same-day numbers, prime time:

• Total Viewers: 5,346,000 2,737,000 2,451,000
• A25-54: 1,092,000 493,000 744,000




Nielsen live-plus-same-day numbers, total day:

• Total Viewers: 2,439,000 1,478,000 1,329,000
• A25-54: 469,000 247,000 349,000




Here’s the full ranker, sorted by average total viewers.

Basic cable ranker: Week of Oct. 19 (Total Viewers)