Fox News Ends 2021 as Most-Watched Basic Cable Channel for Sixth Straight Year

Primetime star Tucker Carlson hosted the top program for the entire year

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Fox News

End-of-year ratings are in and Fox News finished off 2021 as the top-rated basic cable channel for the sixth straight year, netting a lot of other wins along the way. MSNBC came in second place, followed by CNN, ESPN and HGTV.

According to Nielsen Media Research ratings data, Fox News secured an average of 1.327 million total viewers in total-day ratings for the year, with 222,000 of those in the advertiser-coveted age demographic of 25 to 54. It was the only cable network to deliver over 2 million total viewers in primetime and 1 million in total-day viewership for the year, on average. CNN averaged 773,000 total average viewers in total-day, with 185,000 of those in the demo, on average. MSNBC nabbed 905,000 total average viewers, of whom 125,000 were in the demo.

“As we embark on our 20th year as the leader in cable news, the last six of which as number one in all of cable, I am incredibly proud of the unrivaled success we’ve had at Fox News Channel,” said Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott. “Not only were we the only network to grow our audience share, but we did so while changing our lineup and transforming the entire late-night television landscape in the process, ensuring our continued momentum for many years to come.”

Fox News’ 8 p.m. ET program, “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” was the top-rated program in cable news with its average of 3.214 million total viewers, of whom 535,000 were in the key demo. Notably, the second-place finisher for the year also belonged to Fox News — but wasn’t in primetime. The 5 p.m. ET show, “The Five,” netted an average of 2.936 million total viewers with 423,000 in the demo.

In primetime, the numbers for the year broke down like this: Fox News secured 2.348 million total average viewers between the hours of 8 p.m. ET and 11 p.m. ET. Of those, 370,000 were in the demo. MSNBC was in second place in total average viewers, pulling in 1.533 million, but its 216,000 demo viewers had the network placing third among the big three cable news channels. CNN saw an average of 1.078 million primetime viewers for the year with 268,000 of those in the demo.