ESPN, Weather Channel Challenge Fox News For Weekly Cable Ratings Supremacy

The return of college football on ESPN as well as The Weather Channel's live coverage of Hurricane Irma teamed to knock Fox News from its exclusive perch atop the weekly cable primetime and total day charts.

ESPN tied Fox News atop the primetime charts for the week of Sept. 4 to Sept. 10 with 2.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen. Fox News has now held or shared the top spot of the weekly primetime charts for 16 consecutive weeks.

The Weather Channel finished a close third with 2.2 million viewers, followed by MSNBC’s 1.9 million viewers and CNN’s 1.8 million watchers.

Rounding out the top 10 most watched networks in primetime for the week were USA (1.5 million), HGTV (1.3 million), TBS (1.1 million) and FX and Investigation Discovery (tied with 1 million).

The Weather Channel’s coverage of Hurricane Irma helped the network finish as the most watched cable network on a total day basis, ending Fox News’ streak of 35 consecutive weeks in the top spot. CNN, MSNBC and Nickelodeon rounded out the top five. 

TWC was also the most watched network among 18-49 year olds on a 24-hour basis, while ESPN was the top choice for viewers in the demo in primetime. 

ESPN’s Sept. 4 Tennessee/Georgia Tech college football telecast drew 5.1 million viewers to finish as the most watched cable show of the week, with The Weather Channel’s Hurricane Irma coverage dominating the rest of the top 10 list, according to Nielsen.

R. Thomas Umstead

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.