Fox News, CNN Claim Historic October Ratings

MSNBC grows 261 percent over last October in primetime as Election Day looms

Chris Wallace Final Presidential Debate Between Hillary Clinton And Donald Trump Held In Las Vegas Fox News ratings
Getty Images

Fox News Channel finished October as the most-watched network in all of cable in both primetime and total day viewers, but CNN edged its ratings rival among the key demo of adults age 25-54.

This marks the fifth time in 2016 that Fox News finished a month atop both total viewer categories, an annual sum the network had never amassed in its 20-year history until this year. Fox News averaged 3.06 million primetime viewers to top ESPN’s 2.67 million. CNN finished third with 1.91 million while MLB playoffs-heavy Fox Sports 1 and TBS rounded out the top five primetime networks.

The primetime demo is where things get interesting. CNN averaged 704,000 adults 25-54 to beat Fox News’ 663,000 in Monday-Sunday totals. Over this timespan, CNN is up 100 percent compared to October 2015. MSNBC also grew significantly, up 261 percent, but came in a distant third with 432,000 demo viewers.

CNN has now topped Fox News in the primetime demo in seven of the last 14 months. However, if you only examine weekdays during primetime, Fox News slightly regains the top spot, averaging 737,000 demo viewers compared to 732,000 for CNN. This essentially shows that ratings heavyweights “The O’Reilly Factor,” “The Kelly File” and “Hannity” continue to carry Fox News while CNN picks up ground on weekends with original programming such as “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.”

TheWrap uses Nielsen’s live plus same day data to determine ratings, but many advertisers prefer a blend of live plus same day and live plus seven days. When using the blended data, CNN had its most-watched month in 11 years and beat Fox News in both total day and primetime demos for the first time in 15 years.

Among total day viewers, Fox News averaged 1.54 million to hold off Nickelodeon’s 1.1 million viewers for the top spot. CNN cracked the one-million viewer plateau with 1.01 million, while ESPN and Adult Swim rounded out the top five, but failed to average one million viewers. MSNBC averaged 886,000 viewers in the total day category.