The decade's most triggering comedy
The Nielsen ratings brought Fox News an early Christmas present.
Fox News Channel will close out 2021 as the most-watched channel, not merely in cable news, but on all of basic cable. Viewers have made the conservative cable news network the top channel on basic cable for the last six of the network’s 25 years on the air. FNC — which debuted on October 7, 1996 — has also outpaced its liberal competitors MSNBC and CNN to become the number one choice in cable news for two decades.
“As we embark on our 20th year as the leader in cable news, the last six of which as number one in all of cable, I am incredibly proud of the unrivaled success we’ve had at FOX News Channel,” said FOX News Media CEO Suzanne Scott.
The network owned 10 of the top 15 programs in cable news, and nine of the top 15 shows among advertisers’ most-coveted demographic: viewers aged 25 to 54.
“Tucker Carlson Tonight” ended the year as the most-watched program on cable news with an average audience of 3.2 million viewers. Carlson’s populist conservative show, which interviewed figures ranging from Kyle Rittenhouse to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, proved such a ratings blockbuster that Carlson spun off a daytime show. “Tucker Carlson Today” began streaming on FoxNation in March.
“The Five” came in second with 2.9 million viewers, followed closely by “Hannity” with a 2.88 million-strong audience.
Scott also pointed with pride to the way Greg Gutfeld’s emphatically eponymous late-night show “Gutfeld!” consistently ranks as the number-two show in late night and beat number-one-ranked Stephen Colbert in a number of weeks. Gutfeld spent the year “transforming the entire late-night television landscape in the process, ensuring our continued momentum for many years to come,” said Scott.
In all, Fox News attracted an average audience of 1.3 million viewers through December 13; no other channel on basic cable exceeded one million viewers on average.
Fox News showed its continued dominance of cable news in its primetime schedule. FNC’s 2021 primetime ratings were nearly as high as rivals CNN and MSNBC combined. Fox News rated first in primetime, followed by sports giant ESPN, MSNBC, and CNN.
CNN barely broke one million viewers in primetime, in large part a reflection of the tumultuous year suffered by the network’s number one host, Chris Cuomo. CNN executives stood by Cuomo as revelations surfaced that he had advised his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), on media strategy to combat a string of sexual harassment allegations. As New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) released documents showing the CNN host had been more deeply involved in his brother’s defense than he publicly admitted, ratings for “Cuomo Prime Time” began to sink. The network placed him on leave pending an investigation, then fired him in early December as an allegation of sexual harassment surfaced against the younger Cuomo brother; his SiriusXM Radio show also abruptly came to an end. Presently, the network has renamed his series “CNN Prime Time” and had Michael Smerconish serve as guest host.
The network also concerned some of its core viewers in May when Don Lemon seemingly implied his show had been canceled; it had instead been rebranded “Don Lemon Tonight.”
Fox News prolonged its ratings success this year after significantly reshaping its programming lineup. In 2021:
Nielsen ratings show 2021 proved a good year for centrist and conservative alternatives to CNN and MSNBC, in general. FNC’s most successful conservative challenger, Newsmax TV, also significantly increased its audience in 2020, due in part to controversies over FNC’s coverage of the 2020 presidential election. Newsmax grew its primetime audience by a whopping 38%, surging from 88th place among basic cable networks in 2020 to 60th place in 2021.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.