bret-baier-fox-news
Courtesy of Fox News Channel

Fueled by its record-setting ratings for coverage of the South Carolina primary Saturday night, Fox News Channel has finished as the most-watched cable network in primetime and on a total-day basis for a fifth straight week — matching its longest-ever winning streak.

The network placed No. 1  in primetime with an average nightly audience of 2.16 million viewers, according to Nielsen, even though rivals CNN and MSNBC aired multiple town hall specials. CNN ranked seventh among all cable networks in total viewers for primetime (1.39 million) and MSNBC placed 13th (994,000) — up from ninth and 18th, respectively, for the previous week — in what was an especially strong week for cable news in general.

In primetime, Fox News Channel was followed in the weekly total-viewer rankings by USA (1.93 million) and AMC (1.84 million), and in total-day its 1.3 million put it ahead of Nickelodeon (1.2 million) and Disney Channel (1.1 million). The only other time in network history that FNC ranked first in both primetime and total-day for five straight weeks came in 2003 during the Iraq War.

FNC’s coverage of the South Carolina primary on Saturday averaged 3.3 million viewers from 7-10 p.m. ET, the largest ever for any network’s coverage of the event and well ahead of CNN (1.9 million) and MSNBC (1.1 million). The network, with Bret Baier (pictured) and Megyn Kelly anchoring, also finished on top in the adults 25-54 news demo (588,000 to 567,000 for CNN), with MSNBC well behind at 243,000.

From 3-6 p.m. ET, CNN led in the demo (297,000) and Fox in total viewers (1.59 million) for coverage of the Nevada caucus on the Democratic side. And on a total-day basis Saturday (which also was highlighted earlier in the day by coverage of Antonin Scalia’s funeral), Fox News led in both the demo (273,000) and total viewers (1.50 million), followed by CNN (259,000 adults 25-54/914,000 viewers overall) and MSNBC (128,000 adults 25-54/514,000 viewers overall).

FNC’s “The O’Reilly Factor” — even with Eric Bolling filling in for Bill O’Reilly as host — was the week’s most-watched cable news series with about 2.4 million viewers.

CNN was strong midweek with its GOP town hall meetings, winning both Wednesday (758,000 adults 25-54/2.31 million total viewers) and Thursday (781,000/2.88 million total viewers) and finishing ahead of FNC for the week in primetime demo viewers (410,000 vs. 392,000). MSNBC, which averaged 231,000 adults 25-54 in primetime for the week, was paced by its Thursday night (314,000 adults 25-54/1.47 million total viewers), which included a Democratic town hall with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

CBS was the week’s most-watched network overall, led by its Feb. 15 telecast of the Grammy Awards (24.95 million viewers), and the network swept the broadcast top 10 for a second straight week (it actually had the top 11 this time around). The Eye also won in adults 18-49 for a third straight week — its longest winning streak in nearly two years.

ABC moved up to second for the week in 18-49, getting a nice boost on Sunday from its two-hour “Disneyland 60” anniversary special (1.8/5 in 18-49, 6.91 million viewers overall). Overall, it had eight of the week’s top 20 programs in the demo, led by “Modern Family” (2.4/8), “Grey’s Anatomy” (2.2/8) and “The Bachelor” (2.2/6).

AMC’s “The Walking Dead” was the week’s No. 1 series in adults 18-49 (6.6 rating), down slightly from its week-earlier premiere and up 6% in the demo and 10% in total viewers from the show’s second episode of last season’s winter/spring season.

WEEK’S TOP PRIMETIME NETWORKS
(Live plus same-day for Feb. 15-21, 2016)

Adults 18-49 rating
CBS ………………… 2.22
ABC ………………… 1.42
Fox …………………. 1.17
NBC ………………… 1.07
UNI ………………….. 0.76
AMC ………………… 0.72
TBS …………………  0.66
CW ………………….  0.63
USA …………………  0.53
ESPN ……………….  0.51

Total Viewers (in millions)
CBS …………………  10.65
ABC ………………….   5.19
NBC …………………..  4.98
Fox ……………………  3.97
FNC …………………..  2.16
UNI ……………………  2.00
USA …………………..  1.93
AMC ………………….  1.84
HGTV …………………  1.69
CW ……………………. 1.64

WEEK’S TOP PRIMETIME PROGRAMS
(Live plus same-day for Feb. 15-21, 2016)

Adults 18-49 rating/share
1.  58th Annual Grammy Awards (CBS), 7.7/14
2.  The Walking Dead (AMC), 6.6/21
3.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 3.8/14
4.  Talking Dead (AMC), 2.7/9
5.  Modern Family (ABC), 2.4/8
6.  NCIS (CBS), 2.3/8
7.  Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), 2.2/8
7.  The Bachelor (ABC), 2.2/6
9.  Life in Pieces (CBS), 2.1/7
9.  The X-Files (Fox), 2.1/6
11.  American Idol-Wednesday (Fox), 2.0/7
11.  American Idol-Thursday (Fox), 2.0/7
11.  The Goldbergs (ABC, 2.0/7
11.  NCIS: New Orleans (CBS), 2.0/6
16.  The Middle (ABC), 1.9/7
16.  Survivor (CBS), 1.9/6
18.  Mom (CBS), 1.8/6
18.  Scandal (ABC), 1.8/6
18.  Blackish (ABC), 1.8/6
18.  Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60 (ABC), 1.8/5

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.  58th Annual Grammy Awards (CBS), 24.95
2.  NCIS (CBS), 17.33
3.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 15.24
4.  The Walking Dead (AMC), 13.48
5.  NCIS: New Orleans (CBS), 13.42
6.  Blue Bloods (CBS), 10.74
7.  Madam Secretary (CBS), 10.72
8.  60 Minutes (CBS), 10.67
9.  Life in Pieces (CBS), 9.34
10.  Hawaii Five-0 (CBS), 8.86
11.  Mom (CBS), 8.68
12.  Survivor (CBS), 8.30
13.  American Idol-Wednesday (Fox), 8.23
14.  American Idol-Thursday (Fox), 8.19
15.  The Good Wife (CBS), 7.91
16.  Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), 7.82
17.  Law & Order: SVU (NBC), 7.73
18.  Chicago Fire (NBC), 7.53
19.  Modern Family (ABC), 7.48
20.  Chicago PD (NBC), 7.45

Source: Nielsen (each 18-49 ratings point represents roughly 1.27 million viewers)

 

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