Fox News Is Most-Watched Basic Cable Network in 2017

Sorry, ESPN: Politics is the new live sports

Last Updated: December 12, 2017 @ 12:13 PM

Who needs an election? Fox News Channel is about to finish 2017 as the most-watched basic cable channel on television. That makes it two years in a row at No. 1 for the Murdoch-owned network.

Fox News will win the calendar year’s primetime and Nielsen’s total-day measurement in terms of “live” overall eyeballs. From Monday to Sunday, counting 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., FNC averaged 2.422 million total viewers. Second-place network ESPN was fairly far behind with 1.921 million.

Across the “total day” metric, which goes from 6 a.m. to 6 a.m., Fox’s 1.501 million viewer-average bests No. 2 Nickelodeon’s 1.123 million.

In the advertiser-coveted demographic, adults 25-54, Fox News actually finished sixth in primetime, behind ESPN, TBS, TNT, and Discovery — in that order. Fox was third in “total day” among viewers in that all-important age range.

Fox has led in these two metrics for the last two years; in 2015, ESPN led primetime and Nickelodeon conquered total day.

The coveted No. 1 spot across all cable television put Fox miles ahead of their more direct competitors in cable news.

Among total viewers for cable news, CNN notched 1.06 million total viewers overall and just 370,000 among the advertiser-coveted 25-54 year old demographic. The numbers represented a decline of 15 percent and 13 percent respectively.

MSNBC came in third with 1.624 million overall and 370,000 among the 25 to 54 demographic. Those numbers for MSNBC, however, represented large jumps of 50 percent and 37 percent respectively.

Bill O’Reilly’s “O’Reilly Factor” played a significant role in the first one-third of Fox News’ 2017 ratings. O’Reilly’s ratings actually surged in the days before the channel axed his show.

O’Reilly’s successor, Tucker Carlson, has mostly filled in the void. His “Tucker Carlson Tonight” was the second most-watched cable program on television, averaging 2.742 million average total daily viewers.

O’Reilly’s former spot atop the ratings now belongs to Sean Hannity, who beats Carlson soundly in both overall viewers and among the 25-54 year demographic.

The newly debuted “Ingraham Angle” also came in for a strong showing, ranking fifth in total viewers with 2.5 million. Laura Ingraham is fourth among the 25-54 demo, averaging 491,000 viewers.