Week of Sept. 20 Basic Cable Ranker: Fox News Marks 32 Straight Weeks at No. 1 in Total Day; ESPN Moves to No. 1 in Prime

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News Channel’s streak as the most-watched cable network in primetime came to an end this past week, as a Monday Night Football-driven ESPN moved into the No. 1 spot in total viewers. That said, FNC continues to set the standard in total day, marking 32 consecutive weeks as the network that’s averaging the most total viewers across the 6 a.m.-6 a.m. daypart.

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, Fox News averaged 2.41 million total viewers and 391,000 adults 25-54 in primetime last week. That’s more than CNN and MSNBC combined. However, it’s -10% in total viewers and -6% in the demo from what the network averaged in those measurements the previous week (week of Sept. 13).

In addition to primetime, Fox News averaged 1.5 million total viewers in total day, and 247,000 A25-54 viewers in total day. Those numbers are actually pretty relative to the previous week, +1% in total day viewers and +4% in the total day demo.


In addition to ranking No. 2 in total primetime viewers and No. 1 in total day viewers across basic cable last last week, Fox News finished No. 3 in the primetime demo, and No. 2 in the total day demo across basic cable.

The Five was the most-watched show on cable news, averaging 3.385 million total viewers. That’s not something we see particularly often. Tucker Carlson Tonight finished second (3.21 million) followed by Hannity (2.815 million), Special Report with Bret Baier (2.49 million) and The Ingraham Angle (2.34 million rounding out the top five in total viewers.

Carlson, not The Five, ranked No. 1 among adults 25-54 (550,000). The Five came second in the demo (467,000), followed by Hannity (464,000), The Ingraham Angle (408,000) and Special Report (385,000).

MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show finished No. 6 in total viewers (2.27 million) and No. 10 among adults 25-54 (294,000), which is down from the prior week.

Speaking of Maddow, MSNBC averaged 1.35 million total primetime viewers (No. 3 on basic cable), and 168,000 adults 25-54 in prime time (No. 18) this past week. That’s -2% in total viewers but actually +8% in the demo from what the network drew in those measurements in primetime the previous week.

MSNBC fell back to No. 3 in total viewers during the 6 a.m.-6 a.m. total day daypart (731,000), and No. 24 among adults 25-54 (86,000) this past week. That’s -5% in average total day audience but flat in the total day demo from the previous week.

CNN averaged 776,000 total viewers in prime time (No. 8 on basic cable) and 549,000 in total day (No. 5 on basic cable) during the week of Sept. 20. When it came to adults 25-54, CNN averaged 185,000 viewers in primetime (No. 14) and 124,000 in total day (No. 10 on basic cable). How do those figures stack up against the previous week? The network shed -3% in average total viewers in primetime, but actually grew by +5 the primetime demo. The network fell -6% in total day viewers and -1% 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.

Week of Sept. 20 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):

• Total Viewers: 1,495,000 731,000 549,000
• A25-54: 247,000 86,000 124,000




• Total Viewers: 2,406,000 1,346,000 776,000
• A25-54: 391,000 168,000 185,000