Fox News Viewership vs. CNN - Featured Image
By Maria Pengue | March 10, 2022 | 0 Comments

9 Interesting Statistics on Fox News Viewership vs. CNN (2022 Edition)

CNN and Fox News have come a long way since they were founded. Both hold some of the highest ratings nationwide for prime time and fiercely battle to top each other every week. Even though Fox News has been around for less than 16 years compared to CNN, it has dwarfed its lifelong competitor in recent times. 

This begs the question: as of now, which company is doing better? Is the Fox News viewership vs. CNN battle over yet? Is this truly a back-and-forth struggle for higher ratings, or can we already decide who the definitive news station is? We have crunched the numbers to make some interesting conclusions.

You’re intrigued to find out which one’s the best, aren’t you? So, let’s delve straight into this.

Surprising Statistics on Fox News vs. CNN Viewership (Editor’s Choice)

  • Fox News hit 1.5 million viewers on average from January 31 to February 6, 2022.
  • CNN reached 467,000 viewers from January 31 to February 6, 2022.
  • By February 2022, Fox News had had more viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined for 25 weeks straight.
  • CNN suffered a 40% decline in prime time viewership compared to 2020.
  • Fox News has been the most watched cable news station for 20 years in a row.
  • In 2021, Fox News had 1.3 million daily viewers on average vs. CNN’s 787,000.
  • In 2021, CNN lost 48% of its viewers aged 25–54. 
  • 2021 was CNN’s second most-watched year.
  • Compared to 2020, Fox News lost 29% of its total viewers in 2021.

Astounding CNN and Fox News Viewership Statistics

1. Fox News hit 1.5 million viewers on average from January 31 to February 6, 2022. 

(Fox News)

February started well for Fox News. The network was the only one to break the one-million threshold during the first week of February, achieving an astonishing 1.5 million viewers on average. This puts it well above CNN, which only had over 400,000 viewers on average. 

These statistics perfectly reflect 2022’s bigger picture for Fox News.

Due to its fantastic start of the year, we can expect the network to remain the leading cable news station in the country. Fox News dwarfed the CNN and MSNBC ratings in 2021 and the beginning of 2022, both during prime time and all-day slots.

Furthermore, among the much desired demographic, which consists of adults aged 25 to 54, Fox News is yet to be seriously challenged by any cable TV channel. This is especially true for the network’s famous program Tucker Carlson Tonight. Although The Five — another one of Fox News’s top successes — managed to achieve slightly higher general ratings, the Tucker Carlson TV ratings indicate that the show dominates the 25–54 age group. 

2. CNN reached 467,000 viewers from January 31 to February 6, 2022. 

(Adweek)

Compared to its competitors, CNN is not in good shape. A lot of factors come into play — the main one being the viewership’s tendency to dramatically rise in election years, then decline rapidly during off-years, such as 2022. 

Like most of the top news channels in the USA, CNN thrives off periods of extreme tension. Although eventful, the first weeks of 2022 were not enough to bring substantial viewership — neither during prime time nor all-day slots. 

CNN recorded a year-to-year decline that’s greater than 80% from the first week of February in 2021 to 2022. As you’ll see in this article, over the span of its 42-year operation, 2021 was the second-best year for CNN. 

3. By February 2022, Fox News had had more viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined for 25 weeks straight.

(Fox News)

During the last six months, Fox News has been the most watched news channel in the USA, maintaining record-breaking results for the last four months of 2021 and the first two of 2022. 

CNN and MSNBC, Fox News’s two biggest competitors, can’t surpass the TV news giant’s viewership, even with their ratings combined. This is in stark contrast with the Fox News vs. CNN viewership figures in 2019 and 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic, CNN managed to increase its viewership by 83% from 2019. 

4. In 2021, CNN suffered a 40% prime-time viewership loss compared to 2020. 

(Adweek)

2021 ended with CNN being the fifth cable network for prime-time viewers. While this is still an impressive achievement, if we compare these results with 2020’s final statistics, we can notice a major downfall — a 40% decline in overall prime-time CNN ratings

What happened could not be narrowed down to just a single factor. The most significant one is 2021 being an “off” year, with no elections to cover. CNN’s ratings have always been subjected to heavy fluctuations in these situations. 

That being said, we can’t call this a true disaster. We’re still comparing CNN’s two most successful years ever. We can hardly expect it to surpass its most prominent competitor, Fox News, but experts are inclined to believe 2022 will be a somewhat successful year for CNN. 

5. Fox News has been the most-watched cable news station for 20 consecutive years.

(Business Wire)

According to Fox News viewership statistics, the network has been the leading cable news network for a whopping 20 years in a row. This streak started in January 2002, just six years after FNC was established. Since then, no other channel has managed to usurp the title of king of the hill just yet.

Looking at current stats for 2022, we can expect Fox News to keep dominating. Since February 6, 2022, MSNBC and CNN’s ratings combined haven’t surpassed Fox News’s, which is pretty common in the Fox News viewership vs. CNN scenario. 

6. In 2021, Fox News had 1.3 million daily viewers on average vs. CNN’s 787,000.

(The Hill)

Fox News finished off 2021 as the top cable news network, with a daily average of 1.3 million day viewers. The conservative giant managed to pick itself up after being dominated earlier in the year by both CNN and MSNBC. 

More specifically, according to Nielsen’s statistics, Fox News reached a total of 1.3 million day viewers from Monday through Sunday. The Tucker Carlson ratings came out on top, with a huge audience of 3.1 million, overtaking Sean Hannity and ending its four-year-long dominance. 

On the other hand, CNN had around 777,300 24-hour viewers, 185,000 of them falling into the advertisement-coveted demographic of adults aged 25–54. These results comfortably won the network the title of “third most-viewed network in all dayparts.” 

7. In 2021, CNN lost 48% of prime-time viewers aged 25–54. 

(Adweek)

First of all, why is this “adults aged 25–54” demographic (sometimes referred to as “the demo”) so important when it comes to cable news ratings? Advertisement, that’s why. 

Advertisers desperately want to reach financially independent people between the ages of 25 and 54. This demographic is the driving force behind every economy, developed or not. 

It’s disappointing for CNN to lose nearly half of its viewers in this age group in 2021. However, this drop was expected. Due to the younger generation’s tendency to follow the news primarily during elections, a drop in CNN ratings during non-election years is not unusual. 

Fox News Viewership vs. CNN - Broadcast studio

8. 2021 was CNN’s second-most-watched year.

(Adweek)

We have mentioned numerous times in this article that 2021 was CNN’s second-best year, right after 2020. The network managed to amass 788,000 total day viewers. 

Although the network keeps struggling in this battle for ratings, it surpassed MSNBC in the 25–54 viewership age group, both for prime-time (second consecutive year) and full-day (eighth year in a row). 

On top of that, looking closely at cable network ratings, CNN managed to get the second-biggest share of cable news viewership in 21 years. It was also noted as one of the top five networks for cable TV. These results cement CNN as one of the most important TV channels in the United States, apart from Fox News. 

Don Lemon Tonight managed to beat MSNBC in 2021 at 10 pm and 11 pm TV slots. At 9 pm, CNN reached 1.36 million viewers. Of that number, 328,000 were adults aged 25–54. 

Again, all news network ratings are drastically lower than the 2020 figures. However, due to the comparatively lower points of tension in 2021, we should have expected it.

9. Compared to 2020, Fox News shed 29% of its total viewers in 2021.

(Business Wire)

2021 was an off year for everybody — Fox News included. While we already mentioned plenty of times how much CNN and MSNBC suffered from the lack of major tension points, such as elections, to cover, we also have to talk about Fox News’s statistics in 2021. 

What caused the Fox News ratings decline in 2021? Better yet, why did all the major cable news networks’ ratings drop so consistently? 

First of all, unlike CNN, Fox News hasn’t suffered from a lot of fluctuation in viewers over the years. However, it experienced a viewership decline in 2021, with fewer events to cover. 

Additionally, 2020 was an extremely tense year. Everybody focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and one of the most crucial presidential election campaigns in almost two decades. On the other hand, 2021 did not have all these events to cover. Naturally, this caused the Fox News rating to drop

Cable news viewership is also generally declining steadily as the internet is becoming everybody’s main news source. Cable news viewership statistics show that cable news is becoming less and less popular each year. More and more Americans turn to what they perceive as a more objective and convenient form of consuming their daily news.

Overall, Fox News ratings declined in 2021 when compared year-over-year with 2020. However, compared with other cable news networks, it is, in reality, holding its ground well against its competitors while trying to withstand the challenges that arise in this digital age. 

Conclusion

Fox News and CNN are arguably the two most influential cable news networks in the United States. Millions of Americans nationwide follow one or the other.

The past two years have done nothing but instigate the Fox News viewership vs. CNN contest. While 2020 turned out to be a year of growth, 2021 was a year of stagnation for both networks. It shouldn’t be taken lightly when we say that 2022 is another crucial year for cable news networks. Although Fox News seems to be dominating for the 21st year in a row, CNN can still turn the tables.

FAQ

What is the most watched news network?

Currently, Fox News is the most watched cable news network in the United States. It has held this title for 20 years in a row, and it doesn’t look like this cable news giant will be dethroned anytime soon. 

In 2021, MSNBC and CNN came in second and third to Fox News, respectively. However, any of these major players can overturn the giant at any moment. 

How many viewers does Fox News have?

During the first week of February 2022, Fox News managed to amass a whopping 1.5 million viewers on average, which was an increase of 200,000 viewers from 2021’s average viewership. 

In 2021, Fox News also managed to reach an average of 2.35 million prime time viewers — an impressive result for cable news. Of these, 371,000 were adults aged 25–54, putting FNC above its competitors.

Who watches Fox News?

Fox News’s audience is primarily conservative, comprising a substantial 60% of American conservatives. Furthermore, 29% of liberals nationwide watch Fox News. Even though Fox News is a conservative network, it has more liberal viewers than CNN.

Age-wise, Fox News holds the majority of viewers aged 25–54, which is a key demographic. However, this does not mean that FNC’s audience is younger — its median age for prime time TV is 68. 

Who owns Fox News?

Fox News Media owns Fox News, and Fox Corporation owns Fox News Media. Finally, the Murdoch family owns Fox Corporation. Fox News is privately owned; it’s not run by the United States federal government.

Editor and media mogul Rupert Murdoch funded the corporation in 2019, making the Murdoch family the official owners of the company. Nowadays, Rupert Murdoch is the chairman of the corporation, while his son, Lachlan Murdoch, holds the position of CEO and executive chairman. 

How many people watch Tucker Carlson?

According to Forbes, Tucker Carlson Tonight averaged 3.4 million viewers in January 2022. Since then, the show has maintained this viewership, only occasionally oscillating above or below another one of Fox News’s most popular shows, The Five.

In 2021, Tucker Carlson was the most watched cable program nationwide in all measurements. 

How many viewers does CNN have?

Nielsen reports that on February 16th, 2022, CNN had 534,000 total viewers, 23.6% of them falling into the key demographic. Both figures show a drastic decline when compared to figures from 2021. 

CNN lost a staggering 48% of viewers aged 25 to 54 in 2021. It’s no wonder that when it comes to the Fox News viewership vs. CNN, the former always wins over the latter. 

Sources: