Week of Sept. 13 Basic Cable Ranker: Fox News Marks 31 Consecutive Weeks as Most-Watched Cable Network

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News Channel was the most-watched network on basic cable during the week of Sept. 13, 2021, both in total day and primetime dayparts. The network remained second place on basic cable in the total day demo, but dropped to third in the primetime demo behind Monday Night Football-driven ESPN and Thursday Night Football-driven NFL Network.

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, Fox News averaged 2.66 million total viewers and 417,000 adults 25-54 in primetime last week. That’s more than CNN and MSNBC combined. It’s also +17% in total viewers and +16% in the demo from what the network averaged the previous week (week of Sept. 6), which started with a low-rated Labor Day.

In addition to primetime, Fox News averaged 1.48 million total viewers in total day, No. 1 on basic cable for the 31st consecutive week. FNC grew by +8% from the prior week in total day viewers and by +5% in the total day demo (238,000).


Tucker Carlson Tonight finished the week as the most-watched cable news show with 3.42 million total viewers. The program also finished No. 1 among adults 25-54, averaging 569,000 in the measurement. The Five was the No. 2 cable news show of the week, averaging 3.11 million total viewers and No. 3 in the A25-54 demo (449,000). Hannity ranked No. 3 in total viewers (3.07 million) and No. 2 in the demo (478,000).

MSNBC averaged 1.375 million total primetime viewers (No. 3 on basic cable), and 156,000 adults 25-54 in prime time (No. 21 ) this past week. That’s +25% in total viewers and +13% in the demo from what the network drew in those measurements in primetime the previous week.

MSNBC improved to No. 2 in total viewers during the 6 a.m.-6 a.m. total day daypart  (767,000), and averaged 86,000 adults 25-54 during total day (No. 23) this past week. The network gained +18% in average total day audience and +10% in the total day demo from the previous week.

MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show was the No. 6 cable news show of the week in total viewers, averaging 2.35 million total viewers. TRMS was the only non-Fox News show to crack the cable news top 10.

CNN averaged 799,000 total viewers in prime time (No. 8 on basic cable) and 587,000 in total day (No. 4 on basic cable) during the week of Sept. 13. When it came to adults 25-54, CNN averaged 177,000 viewers in primetime (No. 15) and 125,000 in total day (No. 10 on basic cable) this past week.

How do those figures stack up against the previous week? The network gained +12% in average total viewers in primetime, grew by +5% in the primetime demo, +10% in total day viewers and +7% in the total day demo.

And as has become custom during a fair chunk of 2021, CNN beat MSNBC in the key A25-54 demo last week, while MSNBC beat CNN in total viewers.

Additionally, Fox News shed -30% of its average total primetime audience from the year-ago week, while MSNBC shed -32% and CNN -48%. FNC shed -36% in the primetime demo, while MSNBC and CNN each lost half of their audience in the measurement.

Fox News also loss less ground, year-over-year, than MSNBC or CNN. The network shed one-fifth of its average total day audience from the year-ago week, while MSNBC and CNN both lost -36%. FNC lost one-quarter of its audience from the total day demo, while MSNBC shed half and CNN fell by -41%.

Week of Sept. 13 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):

• Total Viewers: 2,659,000 1,375,000 799,000
• A25-54: 417,000 156,000 177,000




• Total Viewers: 1,483,000 767,000 587,000
• A25-54: 238,000 86,000 125,000




How about the broader basic cable landscape?

When it came to average total viewers in primetime (Nielsen live-plus-same-day data) for the week of Sept. 13, the top 10 order is: Fox News, ESPN, MSNBC, NFL Network, HGTV, TLC, Hallmark, CNN, INSP and USA. In terms of most-watched cable nets in total day, Fox News is followed by MSNBC, ESPN, CNN, HGTV, Hallmark, ID, INSP, Food Network and USA.

The full basic cable ranker:

Week of Sept. 13 (Total Viewers) 

ESPN was the top-rated basic cable network among adults 25-54 in primetime for the third consecutive week, while NFL Network moved past Fox News and into second place in the daypart. ESPN finished No. 1 in total day demo for the second consecutive week.

In primetime, the basic cable top 10 among adults 25-54 is: ESPN, NFL Network, Fox News, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, TLC, TNT, USA and Bravo. Among adults 25-54 in total day, ESPN and Fox News are followed by ID, TNT, Food Network, HGTV, NFL Network, TBS, USA and CNN rounding out the top 10.

Below, the cable ranker:

Week of Sept. 13 (Adults 25-54)