Week of Sept. 27 Cable Network Ranker: Fox News Is No. 1 in Total Day, ESPN Is No. 1 in Primetime

By A.J. Katz 

Coming up on its 25th anniversary (Thursday, Oct. 7), Fox News continues to attract huge audiences across the 24-hour day. According to live-plus-same-day data from Nielsen, FNC averaged 1.45 million total viewers in total day, No. 1 on basic cable  for the 33rd consecutive week. Fox News also averaged 232,000 adults 25-54 in total day, No. 2 on basic cable. Relative to the previous week (Sept. 20), FNC shed -3% in total day viewers and -6% in the total day demo.

Fox News also averaged 2.30 million total viewers (No. 2 on basic cable) and 351,000 adults 25-54 in primetime (No. 3 on basic cable) last week, which is more than CNN and MSNBC combined. However, it’s also -4% in total viewers and -10% among adults 25-54 from what the network averaged the prior week.

ESPN finished the week as the No. 1 cable network in primetime, not only among adults 25-54 (1.27 million) but also in average total viewers (2.9 million). Monday Night Football is lifting the network, yet again.


Fox News’ 5 p.m. offering The Five was the most-watched show on cable news for the second consecutive week, averaging 3.18 million total viewers.  Tucker Carlson Tonight finished second (3.08 million) followed by Hannity (2.68 million), Special Report with Bret Baier (2.28 million) and The Ingraham Angle (2.25 million) rounding out the top five in total viewers. MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show finished No. 6 in total viewers (2.155 million), and was the top non-Fox News show on cable news last week.

Carlson, not The Five, ranked No. 1 among adults 25-54 (486,000). The Five came second in the demo (446,000), followed by Hannity (412,000), The Ingraham Angle (385,000) and Special Report (330,000).

MSNBC averaged 1.24 million total primetime viewers (No. 3 on basic cable), and 147,000 adults 25-54 in prime time (No.21) this past week. That’s -8% in total viewers and -13% in the demo from what the network drew in those measurements in primetime the previous week.  MSNBC also averaged 698,000 total viewers in the 6 a.m.-6 a.m. total day daypart (No. 3 overall), and 82,000 adults 25-54 (No. 25) this past week. That’s -5% in average total day audience and -5% in the total day demo from the previous week. MSNBC experienced its lowest-rated weekend primetime daypart since 1997.

CNN averaged 613,000 total viewers in prime time (No. 13 on basic cable) and 486,000 in total day (No. 5 on basic cable) during the week of Sept. 27. When it came to adults 25-54, CNN averaged 134,000 viewers in primetime (No. 23) and 102,000 in total day (No. 16 on basic cable). How do those figures stack up against the previous week? Not particularly well. The network shed -21% in average total viewers in primetime and -28% in the primetime demo. The network fell by -11% in total day viewers and -18% in the total day demo. In fact, CNN delivered its lowest-rated week in the 25-54 demo since Nov. 2014. Despite the poor performance, CNN still managed to average more adults 25-54 than MSNBC in total day, but came up short this past week in the primetime demo.

Week of Sept. 27 cable news ratings, Monday-Sunday (Nielsen live-same-day data):

• Total Viewers: 1,448,000 698,000 486,000
• A25-54: 232,000 82,000 102,000




• Total Viewers: 2,302,000 1,236,000 613,000
• A25-54: 351,000 147,000 134,000




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 Sept. 27 (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 Sept. 27 (Adults 25-54)