Fox News dominates news-heavy Q4, outdrawing CNN and MSNBC combined in key categories

Jesse Watters – Fox News 25th Anniversary Shoutout

Jesse Watters celebrates the 25th anniversary of Fox News Channel.

Fox News Channel finished the fourth quarter of 2021 with its most-watched quarter of the year while CNN and MSNBC both struggled to attract viewers during the news-heavy period that featured everything from an ongoing pandemic and daily political news to critical gubernatorial elections.  

Americans flocked to Fox News for information and analysis as the network topped both CNN and MSNBC every single weekday hour by double- and triple-digit percent advantages during the final quarter of its 25th anniversary year.  

Fox News Channel finished the fourth quarter of 2021 with its most-watched quarter of the year.
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Fox News outdrew MSNBC and CNN combined among weekday total viewers, primetime total viewers, weekday and primetime viewers among the advertiser-coveted demographic of adults age 25-54, weekday viewers during the business hours of 9 am through 5 p.m. and weekends among both total viewers and the key demo. 

Fox News was home to 14 of the 15 most-watched programs on cable news and the entire top 12 among the critical demo. The network finished the quarter with its second-highest share of the cable news audience among the demo in its entire 25-year history with 57%, behind only the fourth quarter of 2004. 

“The Five” averaged a staggering 3.3 million viewers to become the first non-primetime program in cable news history to finish an entire quarter as the most-watched cable news show during an entire quarter. 

“Tucker Carlson Tonight” averaged 542,000 demo viewers to finish the quarter No. 1 in the advertiser-coveted category. 

"The Five" averaged 3.3 million viewers to become the first non-primetime program in cable news history to finish an entire quarter as the most-watched cable news show during an entire quarter. 

“America Reports with Sandra Smith and John Roberts,” “America’s Newsroom with Bill Hemmer and Dana Perino,” “The Faulkner Focus,” “The Five,” “FOX & Friends First,” “FOX & Friends,” “FOX News Primetime,” “Gutfeld!,” “Outnumbered,” “Special Report with Bret Baier,” “The Story with Martha MacCallum,” “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” “Cavuto Live,” “FOX & Friends Weekend,” MediaBuzz,” and “Sunday Morning Futures” all had their most-watched quarter of 2021. 

Meanwhile, CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” the network’s scandal-plagued 9 p.m. ET hour that has been vacated by fired host Chris Cuomo, and “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” all had their smallest demo audience since the second quarter of 2014. Long-struggling morning show “New Day” had its worst quarter ever among the advertiser-coveted category. 

“The Lead with Jake Tapper” had its worst turnout among both total viewers and the key demo since the second quarter of 2018. 

"Tucker Carlson Tonight" averaged 542,000 demo viewers to finish the quarter No. 1 in the advertiser-coveted category. 
(Fox news)

On MSNBC, “The Beat with Ari Melber,” “Deadline: White House” with Nicolle Wallace, “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” and Joy Reid’s “The ReidOut” had their smallest demo audience of in history. “Morning Joe” had its worst demo performance since the second quarter of 2015 and “All In with Chris Hayes,” “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” “The Rachel Maddow Show,” “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” and “MTP Daily” each had their worst demo turnouts since the fourth quarter of 2015. 

On Nov. 2, Fox News also outdrew MSNBC and CNN combined during every hour of coverage for the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial battles along with the New York City mayoral race. Fox News averaged 4.6 million viewers during the primetime hours of 8-11 p.m. ET, compared to 1.4 million for MSNBC and only a smidge over 1 million for CNN. It was Fox News’ highest-rated “odd year” election night in network history.  

Fox News finished 2021 with the largest audience in basic cable for the sixth consecutive year. 

All data courtesy of Nielsen Media Research. 

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