119 Cable Channels Ranked by 2020 Viewership: A Good Year for Cable News (and TLC)

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MSNBC/Fox News/CNN/TLC

119 Cable Channels Ranked by 2020 Viewership: A Good Year for Cable News (and TLC)

Fox News was again the most-watched cable channel in primetime, but there were a few surprises

Everyone would like to forget 2020. Well, maybe not Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN. (Shout-out to TLC as well.)

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Fox News was again the most-watched cable channel in primetime, averaging 3.7 million total viewers each night from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., according to Nielsen’s Live + Same Day ratings. That’s 1.2 million more viewers than last year. Elections are big business, whether or not your side wins.

With very few sports and unlimited politics, MSNBC (2.2 million) leapfrogged past ESPN (1.5 million) to become runner-up on the year. CNN (1.8) also surpassed the sports channel, making a huge move from ninth place in 2019 to third place in 2020.

Behind the main cable news channels were ESPN (fourth) and HGTV (fifth, 1.2 million).

TLC jumped from 11th last year to sixth this year — the lone newbie to the Top 10, thanks to “90 Day Fiance.”

USA Network fell out of the Top 10, making way for TLC. USA ended up in 13th place.

Rounding out that group of the 10 most-watched cable channels of 2020 were Hallmark Channel, TBS, TNT and History Channel.

By this point in the story, you’re probably wondering what channel finished 119th out of 119. That would be Comedy.TV. Again.

In terms of total day (6 a.m. to 6 a.m.) viewing, Fox News, MSNBC and CNN were 1, 2 and 3 again, respectively.

HGTV and Hallmark jumped ESPN to make the Starting 5. Nickelodeon, Food Network, ID and TNT rounded out the Top 10.

Just like in primetime, USA Network again fell out of the Top 10. While Nick did not, it had a pretty unfortunate fall from fourth place to seventh place.

Poor Comedy.TV brought up the pack once more here with an average of just 2,000 viewers. Wonder what kind of programming they air anyway…

Find 2019’s rankings by both vantage points here.

Below, we’ve ranked the cable channels based off of Live + Same Day ratings and not include delayed viewing. While there is certainly a very good argument to have included DVR viewing, in a year when sports were at a premium and news was more vital (and abundant) than ever, we stuck with the way those mediums are almost entirely consumed.

We studied the rankings with one week of delayed viewing, and not a whole lot changed. In primetime, for example, TLC leaps over HGTV, History and the otherwise 11th-place Discovery Channel also move up, dropping TNT out of the Top 10.

Here are the 2020 primetime (8 p.m. through 11 p.m., Monday through Sunday) averages and rankings:

Rank

Network

Viewers (000)

1

FOX NEWS CHANNEL

3,651

2

MSNBC

2,153

3

CNN

1,794

4

ESPN

1,451

5

HOME AND GARDEN TV

1,211

6

TLC

1,143

7

HALLMARK CHANNEL

1,047

8

TBS NETWORK

1,042

9

TURNER NETWORK TELEVISION

925

10

HISTORY

889

11

DISCOVERY CHANNEL

841

12

FOOD NETWORK

822

13

USA NETWORK

799

14

A&E NETWORK

749

15

INVESTIGATION DISCOVERY

693

16

INSP

640

17

BRAVO

575

18

TV LAND

561

19

HALLMARK MOVIES & MYSTERIES

546

20

LIFETIME TELEVISION

537

21

FX

532

22

AMC

511

23

ADULT SWIM

506

24

FREEFORM

444

25

NICK-AT-NITE

434

25

GSN

434

27

SYFY

430

28

WETV

413

29

PARAMOUNT

404

30

ANIMAL PLANET

381

31

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

372

31

TRAVEL CHANNEL

372

33

BLACK ENTERTAINMENT TV

345

33

MTV

345

35

DISNEY CHANNEL

342

36

COMEDY CENTRAL

327

37

NICK JR

321

38

E!

306

39

DISNEY JUNIOR

305

40

VH1

298

41

HBO PRIME

295

41

OXYGEN MEDIA

295

43

LIFETIME MOVIE NETWORK

268

44

OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK

267

45

HLN

258

45

SCIENCE

258

47

NAT GEO WILD

247

48

NBC SPORTS NETWORK

240

49

CNBC

235

50

DIY NETWORK

229

51

FOX SPORTS 1

227

51

MOTOR TREND

227

53

FXX

222

54

CMT

221

55

BBC-AMERICA

220

56

WGN AMERICA

214

57

SUNDANCE TV

205

58

NFL NETWORK

203

59

IFC TV

200

60

ESPN2

196

61

POP

195

62

FAMILY ENT TV

191

63

TRUTV

188

64

THE WEATHER CHANNEL

172

65

COOKING CHANNEL

137

66

GALAVISION

127

66

TV ONE

127

68

FX MOVIE CHANNEL

120

68

FYI

120

70

UP

117

71

REELZCHANNEL

116

72

NEWSMAX TV

113

73

SMITHSONIAN

111

74

SHOWTIME PRIME

106

75

HALLMARK DRAMA

104

76

FOX BUSINESS NETWORK

103

77

STARZ PRIMARY

101

78

GOLF CHANNEL

95

78

TUDN

95

80

AMERICAN HEROES CHANNEL

94

81

GREAT AMERICAN COUNTRY

91

82

DESTINATION AMERICA

90

82

DISNEY XD

90

84

BOOMERANG

89

84

NICKTOONS

89

86

UNIVERSO

85

87

MLB NETWORK

75

88

DISCOVERY EN ESPANOL

74

89

RFD-TV

71

90

STARZ ENCORE PRIMARY

70

91

VICE

68

92

OVATION

64

93

AXS TV

59

94

TEENNICK

57

95

BIG TEN NETWORK

55

95

DISCOVERY LIFE CHANNEL

55

97

DISCOVERY FAMILY CHANNEL

54

97

MTV2

54

99

NBA-TV

47

100

ESPNU

44

100

FOX DEPORTES

44

100

LOGO

44

103

DISCOVERY FAMILIA

39

104

BET HER

38

104

TENNIS CHANNEL

38

106

MAXPRIME

37

107

ESPNEWS

36

108

BABY FIRST TV

35

109

ESPN DEPORTES

32

109

UNIVERSAL KIDS

32

111

CNN EN ESPANOL

26

112

FOX SPORTS 2

25

113

FUSE

21

114

JUSTICE CENTRAL

11

115

NEWSY

9

116

BEIN SPORT ESPANOL

8

117

EL REY

7

118

BEIN SPORT

4

119

COMEDY.TV

3

And in terms of total day (6 a.m. to 6 a.m., Monday through Sunday), the results and rankings look like this:

Rank

Network

Viewers (000)

1

FOX NEWS CHANNEL

1,915

2

MSNBC

1,245

3

CNN

1,133

4

HOME AND GARDEN TV

681

5

HALLMARK CHANNEL

582

6

ESPN

546

7

NICKELODEON

518

8

FOOD NETWORK

509

8

INVESTIGATION DISCOVERY

509

10

TURNER NETWORK TELEVISION

478

11

HISTORY

470

12

USA NETWORK

456

13

TBS NETWORK

434

14

TV LAND

421

15

TLC

416

16

A&E NETWORK

411

17

INSP

377

18

HALLMARK MOVIES & MYSTERIES

374

19

DISCOVERY CHANNEL

359

20

GSN

323

21

DISNEY CHANNEL

303

22

LIFETIME TELEVISION

302

23

THE CARTOON NETWORK

283

24

DISNEY JUNIOR

281

25

FX

278

26

AMC

268

27

WETV

265

28

PARAMOUNT

263

29

MTV

247

30

FREEFORM

238

31

NICK JR

233

32

HLN

229

33

COMEDY CENTRAL

227

34

OXYGEN MEDIA

226

35

ANIMAL PLANET

225

36

TRAVEL CHANNEL

222

36

SYFY

222

38

BLACK ENTERTAINMENT TV

212

39

BRAVO

208

40

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

203

41

WGN AMERICA

189

42

LIFETIME MOVIE NETWORK

188

43

VH1

174

44

CNBC

171

45

SCIENCE

164

46

E!

163

47

OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK

152

48

MOTOR TREND

149

49

NAT GEO WILD

148

50

THE WEATHER CHANNEL

144

51

FOX BUSINESS NETWORK

142

52

CMT

139

53

DIY NETWORK

135

54

FXX

131

54

SUNDANCE TV

131

56

BBC-AMERICA

129

57

FOX SPORTS 1

119

58

TRUTV

118

59

HBO PRIME

117

60

NBC SPORTS NETWORK

110

61

POP

107

62

ESPN2

106

63

NICKTOONS

103

63

IFC TV

103

65

NFL NETWORK

96

66

UP

92

66

FAMILY ENT TV

92

68

NEWSMAX TV

87

68

TV ONE

87

70

COOKING CHANNEL

84

70

GOLF CHANNEL

84

72

BOOMERANG

82

73

FX MOVIE CHANNEL

80

74

DISNEY XD

79

75

FYI

77

76

HALLMARK DRAMA

72

76

SMITHSONIAN

72

78

AMERICAN HEROES CHANNEL

71

79

REELZCHANNEL

68

80

TEENNICK

64

81

GREAT AMERICAN COUNTRY

58

82

DESTINATION AMERICA

56

83

STARZ PRIMARY

53

83

SHOWTIME PRIME

53

85

GALAVISION

50

86

UNIVERSO

45

87

STARZ ENCORE PRIMARY

44

88

MLB NETWORK

42

88

OVATION

42

90

MTV2

40

91

VICE

37

92

LOGO

36

93

UNIVERSAL KIDS

35

94

TUDN

34

95

DISCOVERY LIFE CHANNEL

33

95

BABY FIRST TV

33

95

DISCOVERY EN ESPANOL

33

98

DISCOVERY FAMILY CHANNEL

29

98

TENNIS CHANNEL

29

100

NBA-TV

26

100

BET HER

26

102

RFD-TV

24

102

AXS TV

24

104

ESPNU

23

105

MAXPRIME

22

106

ESPNEWS

21

107

BIG TEN NETWORK

19

108

DISCOVERY FAMILIA

16

109

FOX DEPORTES

15

110

FOX SPORTS 2

13

110

CNN EN ESPANOL

13

110

ESPN DEPORTES

13

113

FUSE

12

114

BEIN SPORT ESPANOL

10

115

JUSTICE CENTRAL

7

116

EL REY

6

117

NEWSY

5

118

BEIN SPORT

4

119

COMEDY.TV

2

Tony Maglio