For the first time in its 20-year history, Fox News Channel will finish 2016 as the most-watched basic cable network in primetime and total day.


Fueled by mostly nonstop coverage of Donald Trump’s nose-thumbing race to the White House, FNC locked up the wins both in primetime and in total day, and every hour on the network’s lineup logged double-digit jumps compared to 2015. Fox News bagged its biggest audiences ever both in primetime and in total day with 2.4 million and 1.4 million viewers, respectively.

USA Network tried to get out ahead of FNC’s celebration with its own announcement, boasting it would end 2016 as the No. 1 entertainment cable network in total viewers for an 11th straight year. But mostly, entertainment cable networks just could not come up with scripted storylines as as gob-smacking and ratings-getting as the endless material churned out daily for the cable news networks – and, mostly particularly for FNC viewers – as did real estate developer turned reality star turned GOP hijacker Donald Trump.

Adding to FNC’s victory-lap fun, the network closes out 2016 as the fifth-most-watched primetime in all of television, behind only Big Four broadcasters networks NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox, in order. FNC noted in particular that it beat ESPN, which ranked sixth for the year, also besting USA — though, of course, ESPN is a “sports” network not an “entertainment” net.

It goes without saying FNC logged larger crowds than its cable news competitors in overall audience; it also bested them in the key news 25-54 demo. Maybe more surprising to some: The network’s The O’Reilly Factor is the No. 1 ranked cable news program for the year, in overall audience, among 25-54 year olds – and with 18-49 year olds.

Among cable news programs, FNC secured 14 of the top 15 programs in total viewers. Bill O’Reilly’s 3.3M viewers edged out No. 2 ranked The Kelly Factor’s 2.7M. While on her book cum contract-ending-soon tour of the media landscape, Megyn Kelly has claimed hers is the No. 1 news program on cable, explaining O’Reilly’s program is an “opinion” show. Nielsen does not make that distinction; where Nielsen comes from, The O’Reilly Factor is filed under: Megyn Kelly’s Lead-In.

FNC also landed seven of the top 10 cable news programs for the year in adults 25-54. Here too, O’Reilly is tops, and Kelly followed, with Sean Hannity ranked No. 3. In addition to FNC colleagues, joining them in the news demo’s Top 10 list also are CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon vehicles, and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

FNC also has seven of the top 10 programs in the younger 18-49 demo, with O’Reilly, Kelly and Hannity taking the top 3, in that order.

For the year, through December 13, here are cable news stats:

FNC: 2.439M total viewers; 485K A25-54
CNN: 1.275M total viewers; 431,000 A25-54
MSNBC: 1.092M total viewers; 273K A25-54

Total Day:
FNC: 1.394M total viewers; 281K A25-54
CNN: 761K  total viewers; 235K A25-54
MSNBC: 608K total viewers; 154K A25-54