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Fox News Tops CBS to Become Highest Rated Network in Primetime This Summer

Ratings since June show Fox News has been the most-watched channel in primetime total viewers, even edging out the return of professional sports

Fox News is the most-watched television network in total primetime viewers in a summer defined by the coronavirus pandemic and national unrest over systemic racism, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Between June 1 and Aug. 3, cable’s Fox News averaged 3,404,000 total primetime viewers in Live + Same Day ratings. CBS, a broadcast network, was close behind with 3,403,000. (It’s worth noting that most broadcast and cable networks focus on Live + 7 Day ratings, which account for often significant amounts of delayed viewing — a practice that seldom happens with cable news.)

The network even stayed on top when professional sports began to return to the airwaves after being halted by the coronavirus pandemic. When the NBA restarted its season July 30, TNT averaged 3.4 million viewers for the Clippers-Lakers game at 9 p.m. ET. Fox News’ “Hannity,” also at 9 p.m., nabbed 3.8 million.

More than 4 million people tuned into ESPN on July 23 to watch the MLB season opener, but “Hannity” was still the most-watched program in television that night, averaging 4.3 million total viewers.

During the week of July 27 to Aug. 2, Fox News had its 30th straight week of being the most-watched cable network. The 5 p.m. ET show “The Five” had a particularly good showing, 3.4 million viewers, of whom 500,000 were in the advertiser-coveted 25-to-54 age demographic.

The roundtable program beat both MSNBC and CNN’s primetime shows in both total viewers and demo viewers.

All three news channels topped the list of most-watched cable networks for the week in both total day viewers and primetime. In total day, Fox News averaged 1.6 million, MSNBC averaged 1.2 million and CNN averaged 989,000. Fourth place went to HGTV with 695,000 and in fifth was TLC with 631,000.

In primetime, Fox News delivered a weekly average of 3.1 million, MSNBC brought in 1.9 million and CNN had 1.3 million. HGTV was again in fourth with 1.3 million while TLC maintained fifth place with 1.2 million total average primetime viewers.