Skip to main content

CNN Tops Weekly Ratings Race

CNN was the most watched cable network in primetime last week, bolstered by its Republican Presidential debate coverage.

The cable news network averaged 2.7 million viewers for the week of Dec. 14 to Dec. 20, paced by the 18.1 million viewers who tuned in to see CNN’s coverage of the Dec. 15 Republican Presidential debate, according to Nielsen.

Sports-themed networks held the next two spots, with ESPN finishing second with 2.4 million viewers and NFL Network pulling into third with 1.8 million viewers. Holiday-themed programming helped push Hallmark Channel (2 million viewers) and ABC Family (1.9 million) into fourth and fifth place respectively.

Fox News and USA Network (tied with 1.7 million viewers), TBS (1.5 million), and Discovery Channel and TNT (tied with 1.4 million) rounded out the top 10 most watched networks for the week.

Fox News and Nickelodeon were the co-leaders among cable networks on a 24-hour basis, with Disney Channel a distant third, said Nielsen.

Most Watched Cable TV Shows During The Week Of Dec. 14-Dec. 20

DateShowNetworkTotal Viewers

12/15 Nevada GOP Debate                         CNN                            18.1 million

12/15 Nevada GOP Debate Pre-Show        CNN                            15.3 million

12/14 Monday Night Football NYG-Miami ESPN                           11.5 million

12/15 Anderson Cooper 360                      CNN                              9.1 million

12/19 Thursday Night Football (NYJ-Dal) NFLN                             7.4 million

12/17 Thursday Night Football (TB-STL)  NFLN                             5.9 million

12/15 Preliminary Nevada GOP Debate    CNN                              5.8 million

12/20 Movie: Christmas Land                     Hallmark                      4.2 million

12/14 WWE Monday Night Raw                 USA Network              4.0 million

12/19 Movie: A Christmas Melody             Hallmark                      3.9 million

Source: 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.