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Fox News scores highest ratings of any cable network in 2023

"The Five" is the highest-rated cable news program in the key demographic, a first for a non-prime time news or commentary show.

"The Five" is the highest-rated cable news program in the key demographic, a first for a non-prime time news or commentary show.

The hosts of the Fox News Channel panel discussion program "The Five." (Courtesy photo)
The hosts of the Fox News Channel panel discussion program “The Five.” (Courtesy photo)

The Fox News Channel ended 2023 as the most-watched cable news network in America, the eighth-consecutive time the channel has received that distinction, according to Nielsen ratings.

The honor comes despite a broader industry trend of cord-cutting that has seen viewers move away from expensive cable and satellite products for cheaper streaming services — which should put Fox News at a disadvantage, since its live news and commentary programming is not available on a standalone streaming service that doesn’t replicate the cable bundle (and with near-comparable prices to match).

Still, Fox News was able to capitalize on the pay TV audience that remains, pulling in an average of 1.9 million viewers on a daily basis in 2023, according to Nielsen data reviewed by The Desk. The figure was around 20 percent lower compared to the 2.37 million viewers Fox News averaged in 2022, Nielsen ratings showed — but it was still higher than any of its competitors.

By comparison, CNN saw its audience shrink by 20 percent on a year-over basis, with the network pulling in around 591,000 overall viewers on a daily basis, Nielsen ratings showed. MSNBC saw its audience grow 2 percent to 1.22 million in 2023, while Newsmax grew its average daily audience to 225,000, a year-over increase of 22 percent.

NewsNation, the relatively-new cable network operated by Nexstar Media Group, was the fastest-growing news network on television, with its average daily audience increasing 73 percent to 109,000, according to Nielsen data. Right-of-center channel The First was not ranked by Nielsen, despite inking a few carriage deals on cable and satellite platforms last year.

For the first time, a cable news show airing outside prime-time had the highest cable news ratings in the key demographic of adults ages 25 to 54 years old (A25-54), which is favored by marketers and TV advertisers. That honor went to “The Five,” a political-focused roundtable show on Fox News that pulled in an average of 2.3 million overall viewers each weekday and around 303,000 viewers in the A25-54 demographic, Nielsen data showed.

Fox News’ late-night show “Gutfeld!” averaged 1.9 million viewers on a daily basis and 268,000 in the A25-54 demographic, making it one of the most-watched late night comedy programs on television. It consistently scored higher overall and A25-54 demographic ratings compared to NBC’s “Tonight Show,” CBS’s “Late Show” and ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” and often scored higher ratings than political affairs programming and re-runs aired on other cable news channels in the 10 p.m. Eastern time slot.

The following is a breakdown of year-end average viewership figures for cable news channels based on Nielsen data for 2023:

  • Fox News Channel: 1.89 million (-20%)
  • MSNBC: 1.22 million (+2%)
  • CNN: 591,000 (-20%)
  • Newsmax: 225,000 (+22%)
  • CNBC: 196,000 (-10%)
  • NewsNation: 109,000 (+73%)
  • Fox Business Network: 91,000 (+44%)
  • Court TV: 56,000 (-3%)

(Editor’s Note: News and political affairs channels like The First, C-SPAN, Scripps News, America’s Voice, Black News Channel defunct and NewsMax 2 were not ranked.)


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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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