Fox News Notches 20 Straight Years as Top-Rated Cable News Network

Fox News set a record in the month of January

The Five
Fox News Media

January ratings are in and, per Nielsen Media Research data, Fox News just set a big record: The network officially capped off 20 straight years as the top-rated cable news channel.

Notably, “The Five” continued its ratings success, ending the month as the most-viewed show in cable news, which is a unique feat for a non-primetime program. Tucker Carlson’s 8 p.m. ET juggernaut led the way in the advertiser-coveted age demographic of 25 to 54.

Fox News ended January as the top cable news channel in both total day viewers and primetime viewers. It has been the most-watched cable news network by both metrics since 2002. “Fox & Friends” host Steve Doocy told TheWrap in October of last year that when he started with the network at its inception 25 years ago, “it didn’t look good” and the team thought “market leader” CNN was tough competition. Five years later, the channel took the lead and never let it go.

Here’s how the numbers for January break down, per Nielsen: Fox News nabbed 1.414 million total-day viewers, on average, with 226,000 of those in the key demo. MSNBC took second place in total average viewers, pulling in 656,000, but took third place in the demo with 74,000. CNN was in last place in total viewers, averaging 493,000, but in second place in the demo with 101,000.

In primetime, Fox News brought in 2.242 million average total viewers, with 338,000 in the demo. Again, MSNBC took second place in total average primetime viewers, pulling in 1.15 million, but last place in the demo, securing 130,000. CNN nabbed 633,000 total average viewers between 8 p.m. ET and 11 p.m. ET, of whom 140,000 were between 25 and 54.

The top five cable news programs in total viewership and demo viewership all belonged to Fox News. In total average viewers, “The Five” led the way with 3.573 million, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” averaged 3.414 million, “Hannity” took in 2.862 million, “Special Report with Bret Baier” nabbed 2.616 million and the 7 p.m. ET hour brought in 2.385 million, on average. “Jesse Watters Primetime” premiered in the 7 p.m. hour during the final week of January. Prior to Watters’ ascension to his own pre-primetime solo gig, the hour was helmed by rotating hosts. Watters’ program nabbed 3.3 million average viewers and 490,000 demo viewers, on average, in its first week.

The top five programs in the demo for the month were “Tucker Carlson Tonight” with an average of 560,000 viewers between 25 and 54, “The Five” with 504,000, “Hannity” with 433,000, the 7 p.m. ET hour with 388,000 and “Special Report with Bret Baier” with 387,000. Watters’ first week hosting “Primetime” drew 490,000 viewers in the demo, on average.

Fox News was also the only one of the big three cable news networks to improve year over year in total average viewers in total day. Fox News was up 4% in total-day viewership compared to January 2021, while CNN was down 74% and MSNBC was down 60%. Recall, of course, that January 2021 was a huge month for news: In addition to the deadly Capitol riot on Jan. 6, former President Donald Trump was impeached a second time and President Joe Biden was sworn in.

Fox News, like its competitors, was down year over year in total-day demo averages, primetime total viewership and primetime demo averages, although its losses were less than CNN’s and MSNBC’s. In total-day demo ratings, Fox News was down 7% compared to January of last year, CNN was down 81% and MSNBC was down 75%. In primetime total viewership, Fox News was down 12%, CNN was down 77% and MSNBC was down 56%. Finally, in primetime demo viewership, Fox News was down 20%, CNN was down 82% and MSNBC was down 73%.