All 124 Cable Channels Ranked by Average Viewership in 2021 – Yahoo Entertainment

Another year, another Fox News Channel viewer victory (on cable). Fox News was the most-watched basic-cable channel (of 124) in 2021, averaging 2.361 million primetime viewers each evening, according to Nielsen’s Live + Same Day data set. That number was down a whopping 35% from the 2020 average, but that’s what happens when you turn the calendar page over from an election year. Just ask the other guys: MSNBC, this year’s No. 3 channel, declined 28% and No. 4 CNN sank 39%.
ESPN (1.658 million, up 14%) welcomed live sports back in 2021, jumping from last year’s fourth-place cable channel in primetime to No. 2 this time around. The Top 4 channels are again cable’s main news and sports channels, the genres that live viewing favors.
TNT (No. 6) and TBS (No. 7) also benefited from the return of live sports — (basketball and baseball, respectively), and along with fourth-quarter giant Hallmark Channel (No. 8), leapfrogged TLC (No. 6 last year, now No. 9). This year’s Top 10 was comprised of the same channels as last year’s — just in a slightly different order.
No. 11 USA Network improved its standing, while Food Network declined. A&E, now without hit series “Live PD,” tumbled from 14th place to 19th place.
NBCU’s Bravo fell from 17th to 20th, while INSP, the religious-programming-turned-Western-programming cable channel recently profiled in this weekly ratings column, jumped from 16th to 12th. Lower down the list, the AMC Networks-owned weTV rose from 28th to 23rd.
But we know what you’re really here for: Did Comedy.TV finish in last place again? The answer: No! It toppled beIN Sports, the year’s new biggest loser.
Find last year’s rankings, which ranked 119 Nielsen-rated basic-cable channels, here.
The 2021 list is below, with viewer tallies in thousands (000). Nielsen counts anyone age 2 and older in its “total viewers” (P2+) data set. The numbers in this story are Calendar 2021 through Dec. 13, 2021.
1
FOX NEWS CHANNEL
2,361
2
ESPN
1,658
3
MSNBC
1,547
4
CNN
1,097
5
HOME AND GARDEN TV
1,089
6
TURNER NETWORK TELEVISION
1,020
7
TBS NETWORK
998
8
HALLMARK CHANNEL
973
9
TLC
824
10
HISTORY
780
11
USA NETWORK
764
12
DISCOVERY CHANNEL
754
12
INSP
754
14
FOOD NETWORK
710
15
INVESTIGATION DISCOVERY
587
16
LIFETIME TELEVISION
560
17
HALLMARK MOVIES & MYSTERIES
513
18
TV LAND
512
19
A&E NETWORK
496
20
BRAVO
487
21
FX
452
22
AMC
450
23
WETV
402
24
GSN
393
25
FREEFORM
391
26
SYFY
390
27
PARAMOUNT
389
28
ADULT SWIM
379
29
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
375
30
NICK-AT-NITE
350
31
ANIMAL PLANET
329
32
BLACK ENTERTAINMENT TV
328
33
TRAVEL CHANNEL
322
34
ESPN2
303
35
MTV
292
36
COMEDY CENTRAL
291
37
FOX SPORTS 1
284
38
NFL NETWORK
280
39
NBC SPORTS NETWORK
274
39
OXYGEN MEDIA
274
41
E!
264
42
DISNEY JUNIOR
253
43
CMT
232
44
HLN
231
45
LIFETIME MOVIE NETWORK
227
46
DISNEY CHANNEL
226
47
NICK JR
225
48
VH1
220
49
SCIENCE
212
50
SUNDANCE TV
209
51
CNBC
206
52
NAT GEO WILD
204
53
OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK
202
54
FETV
199
55
BBC-AMERICA
197
56
HBO PRIME
196
57
IFC TV
195
58
MOTOR TREND
194
59
FXX
191
60
NEWSMAX TV
186
61
TRUTV
185
62
THE WEATHER CHANNEL
176
63
TUDN
174
64
THE CARTOON NETWORK
173
65
DIY NETWORK
168
66
POP
154
67
COOKING CHANNEL
116
68
REELZCHANNEL
111
68
UP
111
70
MLB NETWORK
107
71
GOLF CHANNEL
106
72
GALAVISION
105
73
HALLMARK DRAMA
101
73
TV ONE
101
75
SMITHSONIAN
100
76
SHOWTIME PRIME
95
77
FX MOVIE CHANNEL
88
78
FYI
84
79
NBA-TV
83
80
DISNEY XD
80
81
BOOMERANG
76
82
VICE
74
83
AMERICAN HEROES CHANNEL
71
84
UNIVERSO
67
85
NICKTOONS
66
86
DESTINATION AMERICA
63
87
GAC FAMILY
61
88
OVATION
60
89
BIG TEN NETWORK
59
90
STARZ PRIMARY
58
91
DISCOVERY EN ESPANOL
56
92
RFD-TV
55
92
STARZ ENCORE PRIMARY
55
94
ESPNU
54
95
FOX BUSINESS NETWORK
51
95
MTV2
51
97
TENNIS CHANNEL
50
98
FOX DEPORTES
44
99
AXS TV
43
100
DISCOVERY FAMILY CHANNEL
41
101
LOGO
40
102
NEWSNATION
39
103
TEENNICK
35
104
BET HER
34
104
UNIVERSAL KIDS
34
106
DISCOVERY FAMILIA
33
106
DISCOVERY LIFE CHANNEL
33
108
MAXPRIME
27
109
ESPN DEPORTES
26
110
OLYMPIC CHANNEL
23
110
THE COWBOY CHANNEL
23
112
BABY FIRST TV
21
112
FOX SPORTS 2
21
114
CNN EN ESPANOL
15
115
FUSE
13
115
JUSTICE CENTRAL
13
117
CLEO TV
8
117
PURSUIT CHANNEL
8
119
ACCUWEATHER
7
120
BEIN SPORT ESPANOL
6
120
NEWSY
6
122
BLACK NEWS CHANNEL
4
122
COMEDY.TV
4
124
BEIN SPORT
3
Fox News Channel was also No. 1 in terms of total-day (6 a.m. to 6 a.m.) viewers, marking the sixth straight year the conservative-leaning news channel topped all of cable in both primetime and the 24-hour day. The rest of the Top 10 in all-day programming were, in order: MSNBC, CNN, ESPN, HGTV, Hallmark Channel, ID, Food Network, TNT and INSP.
In terms of adults 18-49, here’s how the Top 10 stacks up in primetime:
ESPN
TNT
TBS
USA Network
Fox News Channel
Food Network
Adult Swim
TLC
HGTV
CNN/Discovery Channel (tie)
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