Week of Oct. 4 Cable Network Ranker: Fox News Remains No. 1 in Total Day Viewers, While Sports Networks Rise in Primetime

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News Channel continues to attract millions of viewers across the 24-hour day. According to live-plus-same-day data from Nielsen, FNC averaged nearly 1.4 million total viewers in total day, making it No. 1 on basic cable for the 34th consecutive week (and No. 1 during the week of its 25th anniversary since launch).  Fox News also averaged 224,000 adults 25-54 in total day, No. 3 on basic cable behind ESPN and a MLB playoffs-driven TBS. Relative to the previous week (Sept. 27), the network lost -4% in total day viewers and -3% in the total day demo.

In primetime, Fox News averaged 2.29 million total viewers (No. 2 on basic cable) and 351,000 adults 25-54 (No. 4 on basic cable) last week, which is fewer than sports-driven ESPN, TBS and FS1, but more than CNN and MSNBC combined. The network remained flat in both total viewers and among adults 25-54 from what the network averaged in those two categories prior week.

ESPN finished the week as the No. 1 cable network in primetime yet again, not only among adults 25-54 ( 1.32 million) but also in average total viewers ( 3.05 million). Monday Night Football continues to do the heavy lifting for ESPN. Huge numbers for MLB’s American League Wild Card  playoff broadcast featuring the Yankees and Red Sox also gave ESPN a nice boost last week as well.


After back-to-back weeks in second place, Tucker Carlson Tonight finished this past week as the most-watched cable news show (3.13 million), knocking off Fox News’ 5 p.m. offering The Five (3.06 million). Hannity remained the No. 3 cable news show of the in average total viewers (2.91 million), followed by Special Report with Bret Baier (2.31 million) and The Ingraham Angle (2.285 million) rounding out the top five in total viewers. Fox News had 13 of the 15-most-watched shows on cable news last week. MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show once again finished No. 6 in total viewers (2.12 million), and was once again the top non-Fox News show on cable news.

MSNBC averaged 1.21 million total primetime viewers (No. 4 on basic cable), and 138,000 adults 25-54 in prime time (No.24) this past week. That’s -2% in total viewers and -6% in the key A25-54 demo from what the network drew in those measurements in primetime the previous week.  MSNBC also averaged 691,000 total viewers in the 6 a.m.-6 a.m. total day daypart (No.4 overall), and 83,000 adults 25-54 (No. 28) this past week. That’s -1% in average total day audience but a +1% improvement in the total day demo from the previous week. MSNBC beat CNN in the primetime demo for the second consecutive week, but continues to come up short in the total day demo.

CNN averaged 696,000 total viewers in prime time (No. 10 on basic cable) and 506,000 in total day (No. 6 on basic cable) during the week of Oct. 4. When it came to adults 25-54, CNN averaged 132,000 viewers in primetime (No. 25 ) and 101,000 in total day (No. 19 on basic cable). How do those figures stack up against the previous week? There’s improvement in total viewers, but continued struggles with younger demos. Compared to the prior week, CNN improved by +14% average total viewers in primetime, but lost -1% in the primetime demo. The network grew +4% in total day viewers but lost -1% in the total day demo.

For the second consecutive week, CNN managed to average more adults 25-54 than MSNBC in total day, but came up short in the primetime demo and in average total viewers across the dayparts.

Week of Oct. 4, 2021 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):

• Total Viewers: 1,395,000 691,000 506,000
• A25-54: 224,000 83,000 101,000




• Total Viewers: 2,293,000 1,211,000 696,000
• A25-54: 351,000 138,000 132,000




Below, the most-watched basic cable networks for the week. Column No. 1 is primetime viewers, and column No. 2 is viewing across total day (6 a.m-6 a.m.).

Week of Oct. 4 (Average Total Viewers)

Second, the adults 25-54 ranker for the week of Sept. 27. Column No. 1 is primetime viewers, and column No. 2 is viewing across total day (6 a.m-6 a.m.)

Week of Oct. 4 (Adults 25-54)