Cable television

Fox News, MSNBC and CNN remain cable TV’s 3 most-watched networks

As has become the norm in recent months, Fox News, MSNBC and CNN again end a calendar month as the three most-watched basic cable networks, both in total daytime (6 a.m.-6 a.m.) and in prime time (8 a.m. -11 p.m.) time slots. Americans flocked to cable news to catch up on continuing coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic, special coverage of the death of the longtime civil rights leader and congressman john lewis and other current events.

Each network had significantly more viewers this month than July 2019. Fox News averaged 3.22 million primetime viewers (+32%) and 1.63 million total viewers (+ 18%). MSNBC averaged 2.1 million total primetime viewers (+39%) and 1.20 million total daytime viewers (+40%). CNN averaged 1.51 million total primetime viewers (+89%) and 994,000 total daytime viewers (+78%), which, while #3, represents the growth of largest year-over-year audience of any cable news network.

In fact, CNN and Fox News each had their most-watched July in network history. FNC also remained No. 1 on basic cable for total daytime viewers for the 49th consecutive month and No. 1 for total primetime viewers for the seventh consecutive month.

Fox News even had several shows averaging over 4 million viewers during the month of July.

Despite setting viewership records in July, Fox News and CNN were down from June in all relevant daytime slots and viewership metrics. To be fair, June was a huge month, and Fox News was coming off of a June in which it averaged more primetime viewership than any other US television network. Yes, this includes more viewers than broadcasters.

MSNBC remained the second most-watched network on basic cable TV and showed slight total prime-time viewership growth beginning in June (although the network lost viewers in other brackets of the day).

It remains to be seen what August will bring. Will we see month-to-month losses as we move into the summer and Americans clamor to spend more time outdoors? Will some unexpected bombs boost the ratings? We will find out soon enough.

Nielsen live plus same-day primetime numbers for July 2020:

FNC MSNBC CNN
• Total number of viewers: 3,218,000 2,084,000 1,510,000
• A25-54: 521,000 299,000 393,000

Nielsen Live Plus Same Day Numbers (6-6am) for July 2020:

FNC MSNBC CNN
• Total number of viewers: 1,631,000 1,197,000 994,000
• A25-54: 275,000 174,000 252,000

On the cable entertainment front, in prime time July, HGTV was the No. 4 basic cable network in Total Viewers, followed by TLC, TBS, Hallmark Channel, History, Food Network and USA rounding out the top 10.

HGTV, Hallmark, Investigation Discovery, Food Network, Nickelodeon and TLC follow Cable News’ Big 3 as the 10 most-watched basic cable networks for July in a total day.

Below is the rest of the basic cable network rankings for July 2020:

July 2020 Basic Cable Rankings (Total Viewers)