The week of Sept. 14, 2020 featured strong ratings for the cable news networks, and another ratings win for Fox News Channel.
FNC was the most-watched network on cable (total viewers), extended its winning streak on basic cable to 37 straight weeks among total viewers in total day (1.9 million) and remained the most-watched basic cable network in prime time for the fourth consecutive week (3.8 million).
Fox News was the third-most-watched network on all of TV—broadcast and cable—in prime time last week, finishing behind NBC (led by Sunday Night Football) and ABC (led by the Emmys).
According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, Tucker Carlson Tonight was the top-ranked cable news show last week, averaging 4.7 million viewers and 844,000 A25-54 viewers. Hannity was the second-highest-rated cable news show of the week, averaging 4.4 million viewers and 742,000 adults 25-54.
There seems to be a seesaw effect going on here, with Hannity finishing No. 1 one week and Tucker Carlson Tonight finishing No. 1 the next. This time, it was Carlson.
How did cable news “big three” perform relative to the prior the week?
For Fox News, the answer is “quite well.” FNC was +14% in total prime-time viewers, +5% in total day viewers, +18% in the prime-time demo (adults 25-54) and +6% in the demo in total day.
MSNBC finished No. 3 in total prime-time viewership across basic cable, behind Fox News and ESPN, which is slowly getting its college football back. NBC’s politics-focused cable network averaged 2.02 million viewers in prime time (-4% from the prior week) and 1.19 million viewers in total day (-2% versus the prior week). Interestingly, the news for MSNBC was better in the demo, +1% in the prime-time demo (adults 25-54) and +5% in the demo in total day.
CNN finished No. 4 across basic cable in total prime-time audience ( 1.55 million), a solid improvement from recent weeks. In fact, compared to the prior week, CNN was +17% in total prime-time viewers and +25% in the prime-time demo. The network was flat in total day viewers, but +4% in the total day demo.
Compared with the same week one year ago, Fox, MSNBC and CNN continue to trend well. Fox News was +55% in total prime-time viewers, +35% in total day viewers, +84% in the prime-time demo and +41% in the demo during total day.
Compared to the year-ago week, MSNBC was +31% in total prime-time viewers, +36% in total day viewers, +43% in the prime-time demo and +50% in the demo during total day this past week.
CNN, which always sees significant viewership growth in election years, was +100% in total prime-time viewers, +66% in total day viewers, +95% in the prime-time demo and +66% in the total day demo versus the year-ago week.
CNN beat MSNBC in the adults 25-54 demo during prime time and total day.
Among adults 25-54, Fox finished No. 3 in prime time, CNN No. 7 in prime time and MSNBC No. 11 in prime time. Fox finished No. 2 in total day among adults 25-54, CNN No. 4 and MSNBC No. 9.
Nielsen live-plus-same-day numbers, prime time:
|• Total Viewers:||3,803,000||2,024,000||1,548,000|
Nielsen live-plus-same-day numbers, total day:
|• Total Viewers:||1,854,000||1,193,000||917,000|
Next, the cable networks ranked by adults 25-54: