Another year is coming to a close, and with all the crazy headlines that have come out 2017, folks have faithfully been tuning into their TVs quite frequently to see what the day brings. Yes, in a year where politics seemed to be interwoven into every facet of our lives, the most watched cable network of 2017 is probably what you think. For the second year in a row, Fox News Channel has earned the title of America's most watched cable network.
The win for Fox News comes outside of a major election year, and it was a total sweep as the network won out against all other basic cable networks for live viewership in both Nielsen's primetime and total-day measurement. In 2017, Fox News averaged 2.42 million total viewers from Mondays through Sundays between the primetime hours of 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. ET. The next highest-rated network, ESPN, was a distant second, posting an average of 1.92 million. Both of those networks have had their fair share of controversies in 2017, but it appears none were so great that they turned viewers away during peak television time.
As for the live total-day metric, which measures viewing between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 a.m. ET the next day, The Wrap reports the gap between first and second place channels was a bit smaller. Fox News again reigned supreme with an average of 1.50 million viewers throughout the day, while past winner Nickelodeon finished in second with a 1.12 million viewer average. Ultimately, it was a battle between conservative audiences keeping up to date with the latest news and children (of all ages?) just wanting to watch cartoons, and it appears this year welcomed more of the former than the latter.
Perhaps predictably, Fox News Channel is also home to the top watched cable television programs, as Tucker Carlson Tonight ended up finishing second to Hannity as the top watched program on cable television. That was a spot formerly held by Bill O'Reilly, whom Carlson replaced when the host was ousted from the network. While he wasn't a part of the entire year of ratings for Fox News Channel, it is noted that The O'Reilly Factor numbers did play a key role in the network retaining its title, as viewership surged on the program leading up to O'Reilly's dismissal. Newcomer Laura Ingraham also had a strong showing, with The Ingraham Angle finishing fifth overall for most watched cable television programs.