Fox News finishes 2018 as most-watched cable network as ‘Hannity’ dominates

Fox News Channel officially finished 2018 as the most-watched basic cable network for the third consecutive year among both primetime and total day viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Fox News averaged 2.4 million primetime viewers, the highest-rated year since launching 22 years ago. No other basic cable network surpassed the two-million average viewership plateau, with ESPN averaging 1.9 million primetime viewers to finish second. MSNBC, HGTV and USA rounded out the top five, while CNN averaged only 988,000 primetime viewers to finish eleventh overall.

“Fox News continues to outperform other basic cable networks, proving once again that our news coverage and premiere team of journalists and opinion hosts are the best in the business. With the recent launch of Fox Nation, an increased focus on digital and the strong ratings momentum we have built, we are confident that 2019 will offer our loyal viewers even more ways to engage with Fox News,”  CEO Suzanne Scott and President Jay Wallace said in a joint statement.

As for total day ratings, Fox News averaged 1.4 million viewers with second-place MSNBC falling short of the one-million mark. MSNBC averaged 994,000 viewers with Nickelodeon, ESPN and HGTV joining FNC among the top five. CNN averaged 706,000 total day viewers to finish seventh among cable networks.

“Hannity” finished 2018 as the most-watched cable news program, averaging 3.3 million viewers. MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” averaged 2.9 million to finish second, while Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” “The Ingraham Angle,” “The Five” and “Special Report with Bret Baier” made up the six most-watched news programs.

Fox News’ victory was widely reported last month but became official when the year wrapped up on Monday evening. Fox News Channel secured 10 of the top 15 programs in total viewers while CNN’s most-watched show was “Cuomo Prime Time,” which finished No. 23 overall. CNN’s top show finished behind 14 Fox News shows and eight different programs on rival MSNBC.

“Hannity” also finished 2018 as the most-watched show on cable among the key demo of adults age 25-54, averaging 635,000 viewers in the category most important to advertisers. Maddow finished second, followed by Carlson, and Ingraham.

Fox News had eight of the top 15 spots among the demo, compared to MSNBC’s four and CNN’s three. FNC also finished as the No. 1 network among households with an income of $100,000 per year.

FNC was the fifth most-watched in all of TV -- including broadcast -- for the third consecutive year and had the No. 1 non-sports rated telecast among total viewers of all basic cable when it covered President Trump’s State of the Union Address.

Fox News’ dominant primetime performance finished behind only broadcast networks as the most-watched station in all of television for 2018, but the brand’s digital properties thrived, too.

Fox News Digital page views increased by 10 percent and visits increased by 22 percent, according to Adobe Analytics. Fox News Digital also won across social media, finishing as the No. 1 news brand with nearly twice as many interactions as its closest competitor, CNN.

During 2018, Fox News was No. 1 on Facebook, accounting for 53 percent of all Facebook Live video views in the competitive set. Meanwhile, Fox News’ sister, Fox Business Network, finished 2018 with its second consecutive yearly win over CNBC in Business Day viewers.