Cable news attracted more adults 25-54 than usual last week, with the growth likely driven by interest in breaking news information about Hurricane Ian and its lethal path across the southeast. CNN, MSNBC and Fox News saw growth in the primetime demo relative to the previous week.
In regard to Fox News, the network has now achieved 39 consecutive weeks as the most-watched on all of basic cable (not just cable news) in the 24-hour daypart—and 85 consecutive weeks as the most-watched cable news network with its Nielsen ratings performance during the week of Sept. 26, 2022.
According to live plus same day data from Nielsen in total day (6 a.m.-6 a.m. ET), Fox News averaged 1.49 million total day viewers and 218,000 adults 25-54. The 1.49 million is +4% from what the network averaged during the previous week (Sept. 19)—and the 218,000 in A25-54 is +6% from that same week.
Fox News dropped from No. 1 to No. 2 in total primetime cable viewers behind ESPN, whose Monday Night Football coverage lifted it to the top of basic cable. ESPN drew an average of 2.2 million total viewers in primetime last week, whereas Fox averaged 2.16 million. Fox gained less than +1% in total primetime viewers from the previous week. In addition to averaging 2.2 million primetime viewers, the network averaged 297,000 adults 25-54 in primetime this past week, which is +6% from the previous week and No. 2 on basic cable overall behind ESPN (973,000 A25-54).
That said, compared to the year-ago week, Fox News shed -6% in total primetime viewers and -15% in the prime time demo. The network gained +3% in total day viewers, but lost -6% in the total day demo.
CNN averaged fewer total viewers than Fox News and MSNBC. However, the network saw far more ratings growth—both on a week-to-week and year-over-year basis—than the competition, driven by its coverage of Ian. In total day, CNN averaged 670,000 total viewers this past week, which is +11% from the prior week and No. 4 on all of basic cable. The network averaged 141,000 adults 25-54, +22% from the prior week and again No. 4 on basic cable.
Shifting over to primetime, CNN averaged 770,000 total viewers, +14% from the prior week and No. 5 on basic cable, to go with 178,000 adults 25-54, up an impressive +35% from the prior week and good enough for No. 10 on basic cable.
CNN thrived on a year-over-year basis, up +26% in total primetime viewers, +33% in the primetime demo, +38% in total day viewers and +38% in the total day demo.
Moving to MSNBC, NBCU’s politics-focused outlet finished the week of Sept. 26 as the third-most-watched basic cable network in primetime (1.18 million) and the third-most-watched in total day (779,000). MSNBC ranked No. 2 on cable news in total audience, but the network didn’t get a positive bump from its Hurricane Ian coverage like Fox and CNN did. MSNBC’s 1.18 million total primetime viewer average is -6% from the prior week, while its 779,000 total day viewer average is -8% from the prior week.
MSNBC averaged 114,000 adults 25-54 in primetime, +4% from the prior week and ranking No. 24 on basic cable. The network also averaged 81,000 adults 25-54 in total day, which is -1% from the prior week and No. 16 on all of basic cable.
Looking at year-over-year trend, MSNBC is -4% in total primetime viewers, -22% in the primetime demo, -1% in the total day demo, but actually +12% in total day viewers versus the week of Sept. 27, 2021. The discrepancy between total day viewers and total primetime viewers can likely be attributed to the absence of Rachel Maddow.
Week of September 26 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):
|PRIME TIME||Fox News||MSNBC||CNN|
|• Total Viewers:||2,163,000||1,182,000||770,000|
|TOTAL DAY||Fox News||MSNBC||CNN|
|• Total Viewers:||1,493,000||779,000||670,000|
In terms of individual programming, The Five is the most-watched cable news show for the sixth consecutive week. The news talk panel program averaged 3.34 million total viewers during the week of Sept. 26, up slightly from the prior week. Tucker Carlson Tonight is second place in total viewers (3.18 million at 8 p.m.), Jesse Watters Primetime (2.81 million at 7 p.m.), Hannity (2.62 million at 9 p.m.) and Special Report with Bret Baier (2.51 million viewers at 6 p.m.) round out the top five.
Tucker Carlson Tonight returned to No. 1 on cable news among adults 25-54, averaging 495,000 viewers from the measurement at 8 p.m. The Five ranked No. 2 (451,000), followed by Jesse Watters Primetime (372,000), Hannity (369,000) and Special Report (346,000). Anderson Cooper 360 made a rare appearance in the cable news top 10, coming in at No. 9 among adults 25-54 (277,000).
Below are the basic cable network rankers for this past week. The first is sorted by most to fewest total viewers, and the second is sorted by most to fewest adults 25-54: