Weekly Cable Ratings: VP Debate Drives Ratings for Cable News Networks

Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier during Fox News' Vice Presidential Debate (Image credit: Fox News)

Last week’s Vice Presidential debate proved to be a ratings bonanza for the cable news networks as Fox News, CNN and MSNBC led cable’s primetime ratings charts last week, according to Nielsen.

Fox News drew 4.5 million viewers to top all cable networks during the period of Oct. 15 to Oct. 11, followed MSNBC (2.8 million) and CNN (2.6 million), said Nielsen. The ratings were bolstered by coverage of the Oct. 7 Vice Presidential debate between incumbent Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), with Fox News topping all broadcast and cable networks' coverage with 11.9 million in total viewers. 

Baseball playoffs-infused TBS finished fourth with 2.4 million viewers, followed by ESPN with 2 million viewers. HGTV (1.1 million viewers), TLC and Hallmark Channel (tied with 1 million viewers), USA Network (802,000) and Food Network (794,000) rounded out the top 10 most watched networks for the week. 

On a 24-hour basis, Fox News won its 40th straight week, averaging 2 million viewers, followed by MSNBC, CNN, ESPN and TBS, said Nielsen. 

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.