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Fox News marks eight consecutive years as most-watched cable network

"The Five" becomes the first non-prime time show to score the highest ratings on cable news in key demos.

"The Five" becomes the first non-prime time show to score the highest ratings on cable news in key demos.

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 is celebrating its eighth-straight year as the highest-rated cable network on American television.

On Thursday, the network provided ratings from Nielsen Media Group that shows its early evening panel discussion program “The Five” scored the highest ratings of any cable news program in the key demographic of adults ages 25 to 54 years old (A25-54), the first time a non-prime time network program has achieved this on any cable news channel.

“During yet another unprecedented news cycle, cable viewers continued to choose Fox News Channel,” Suzanne Scott, the CEO of Fox News Media, the division that operates the Fox News Channel, said in a statement. “From moderating debates to reporting in war zones and many stories in between, I am honored to work alongside this unrivaled team of journalists and opinion hosts as they continue to exceed expectations.”

In prime-time, Fox News Channel grabbed an average of nearly 2 million overall viewers and 214,000 viewers in the A25-54 demographic, more than CNN and MSNBC. On a 24-hour basis, Fox News Channel had around 1.2 million overall viewers and 150,000 in the A25-54 group, Nielsen ratings showed.

A spokesperson pointed out that CNN notched its lowest year-through ratings in the channel’s history, and MSNBC had its lowest-rated prime-time block since 1999.

A Fox spokesperson provided this breakdown of how its programs were viewed throughout the year:

This year, [Fox News Channel] notched the top six most-watched cable news programs (The Five, Jesse Watters Primetime, Hannity, Special Report with Bret Baier, The Ingraham Angle and Gutfeld!). The network also garnered 13 out of the 15 highest-rated programs in cable news in the 25-54 demo, including The Five, Hannity, Gutfeld!, Jesse Watters Primetime, The Ingraham Angle, Special Report with Bret Baier, Outnumbered, The Faulkner Focus, America’s Newsroom, Fox News @ Night, America Reports, Your World with Neil Cavuto and The Story. FNC also had 12 of the top 15 rated shows in the 18-49 demo.

Additionally, the first Republican primary debate in August co-moderated by Special Report’s Bret Baier and The Story’s Martha MacCallum, was the most watched telecast of the year, averaging nearly 13 million viewers and 2,815,000 in the 25-54 demo, topping more than 70% of all presidential primary debates in the last two cycles (2016 and 2020). The second Republican Primary Debate, hosted by Fox Business Network and co-moderated by America’s Newsroom’s Dana Perino and [Fox Business Network]’s Varney & Co.’s Stuart Varney, averaged 9.5 million viewers and nearly 2 million in the 25-54 demo, with nearly 7 million viewers on FNC and over 1 million in the 25-54 demo.

FNC’s continuous breaking news coverage of the Israel-Hamas war has remained the highest-rated in cable news since the war began on October 7th. Delivering 1,261,000 viewers and 155,000 with 25-54 demo in total day and 1,936,000 viewers and 226,000 with 25-54 demo in prime time, the network saw a double- and triple-digit advantage over CNN’s 521,000 viewers and 104,000 25-54 demo for total day and 611,000 viewers and 139,000 25-54 demo in prime time.

For the first time in television history, a non-prime time cable program finished first in the 25-54 demo and notched its second consecutive year as cable’s highest-rated in total viewers, as The Five continued to smash ratings records. FNC’s late afternoon program (weekdays, 5 PM/ET) drew cable news’ largest audience in viewers and the 25-54 demo, averaging 2.9 million viewers and 303,000 in the 25-54 demo. FNC’s new prime time lineup crushed the cable news competition, kicking off with Laura Ingraham dominating the 7 PM/ET time slot with 2 million viewers and 220,000 in 25-54 demo. At 8PM/ET, Jesse Watters Primetime (2.5 million P2+; 255,000 25-54) was the second most-watched cable news program in viewers and Hannity (weekdays at 9 PM/ET) drew the third-largest audience with viewers and second in the 25-54 demo, delivering 2.4 million viewers and 271,000 in 25-54 demo. Notably, Sean Hannity’s DeSantis vs. Newsom: The Great Red State vs. Blue State Debate on November 30th netted over 5.5 million viewers and over one million in the 25-54 demo, with East and West Coast airings, making it the top-rated regularly scheduled telecast in the hour for the year.

FNC’s runaway late-night hit, Gutfeld! (weekdays, 10 PM/ET) soared past the cable and broadcast competition, averaging 1.9 million viewers and 268,000 in 25-54 demo. Gutfeld! continued to disrupt the late-night landscape, outpacing broadcast shows CBS’ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! and beating all of cable late night in viewers, 25-54 demo and the younger A18-49 demo. In cable news, Gutfeld! was the third most-watched show in the younger demo and dominated its time slot.

At 6 PM/ET, Special Report with Bret Baier featured several high-profile interviews in 2023, including exclusives with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and topped the ratings charts. FNC’s premier news program was the highest-rated in cable news in its hour, averaging 2.1 million viewers and 216,000 in 25-54 demo. Fox News @ Night topped the 11 PM/ET hour in its debut year with over 1 million viewers and 165,000 in 25-54.

From 6-9AM/ET, Fox & Friends continued to dominate the morning cable news landscape as the highest-rated morning show for the 22nd consecutive year with 1.1 million viewers and 147,000 in the 25-54 demo. Fox & Friends also outpaced every prime time and daytime program on CNN for the year across the board in viewers. FNC’s early show Fox & Friends First (weekdays, 5-6 AM/ET) delivered 476,000 viewers and 76,000 in the 25-54 demo.

Leading FNC’s daytime news programming, America’s Newsroom with Bill Hemmer and Dana Perino (9-11 AM/ET) averaged 1.5 million total viewers and 176,000 in the 25-54 demo, continuing to dominate the cable news competition. Harris Faulkner’s The Faulkner Focus at 11 AM/ET garnered an audience of 1.5 million total viewers and 185,000 in the 25-54 demo, topping CNN and MSNBC across the board. FNC’s Outnumbered, with co-hosts Harris Faulkner, Emily Compagno and Kayleigh McEnany, was the highest-rated cable news program at 12 PM/ET with 1.6 million viewers and 192,000 in 25-54 demo. Outnumbered continues to outpace the broadcast competition, beating Today with Hoda and Jenna, GMA3, The Talk, and NBC News Daily with total viewers. America Reports with John Roberts and Sandra Smith (weekdays, 1-3 PM/ET) bested CNN and MSNBC, garnering 1.4 million viewers and 164,000 in 25-54 demo. The Story’s Martha MacCallum outranked CNN and MSNBC at 3 PM/ET with 1.4 million viewers and 161,000 in the 25-54 demo while Your World with Neil Cavuto was number one in the 25-54 demo at 4 PM/ET, with 164,000 viewers and 1.4 million total viewers.  

Fox & Friends Weekend (6-10 AM/ET) topped the competition across the board with 1.1 million viewers and 145,000 in 25-54 demo. At 10 AM/ET Cavuto Live beat the competition, averaging 1.2 million viewers and 154,000 in 25-54 demo, finishing the year as the highest-rated Saturday cable news show in the demo. At 6 PM/ET on Saturdays, Fox Report with Jon Scott averaged 988,000 viewers and 94,000 in 25-54 demo. On weekends at 7 PM/ET, FNC’s The Big Weekend Show (988,000 P2+; 89,000 25-54) outpaced CNN and MSNBC on Saturdays and Sundays in total viewers.

During prime time on Saturdays, FNC remained the highest-rated cable news network as Life, Liberty and Levin finished the year in the number one spot in viewers at 8 PM/ET with over 1.2 million viewers and 105,000 in 25-54 demo. At 9 PM/ET, FNC’s One Nation with Brian Kilmeade outpaced CNN and MSNBC, averaging 1,012,000 viewers and 100,000 in 25-54 demo while FOX News Saturday Night also notched the number one spot at 10 PM/ET with 729,000 viewers and 78,000 in 25-54 demo.

On Sundays at 10 AM/ET, Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo drew the largest weekend cable news audience with 1.5 million viewers and 166,000 in 25-54 demo. At 11 AM/ET, MediaBuzz with Howard Kurtz, cable news’ only media watchdog program, delivered over 1.1 million and 136,000 in 25-54 demo. On Sunday evening, Life Liberty and Levin (8 PM/ET) topped CNN and MSNBC across the board with 1.4 million viewers and 103,000 in 25-54 demo while Sunday Night in America with Trey Gowdy beat the competition at 9 PM/ET, averaging 1,188,000 viewers and 88,000 in 25-54 demo.

Fox News Channel is operated by Fox News Media, a division of Fox Corporation. The channel is available to more than 70 million homes in the United States through cable, satellite and Internet-based television services. The channel is also available overseas through the Fox News International streaming service.

Editor’s note: A version of this story contained a headline that said the Fox News Channel was the highest-rated cable news network in 2023. Based on Nielsen ratings, the channel was the highest-rated cable network. 

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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 11 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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