Weekly Cable Ratings: ESPN Snaps Fox News’s Total-Day Win Streak

Michigan Wolverines Wide Receiver Roman Wilson (14) dives into the endzone for a touchdow during the fourth quarter of the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl College Football Playoff semifinal game between the Texas Christian Horned Frogs and the Michigan Wolverines on December 31th, 2022, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ. (Photo by Zac BonDurant/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
ESPN was powered by the College Football Playoff, including the semifinals matchup between TCU and Michigan. (Image credit: Getty Images)

ESPN kicked off 2023 in grand style, topping both the primetime and the total-day charts.

The sports network, led by its New Year’s Eve College Football Playoff semifinals doubleheader coverage, averaged 7.7 million viewers in primetime during the week of December 26 to January 1, according to Nielsen. ESPN’s December 31 Georgia-Ohio State Peach Bowl telecast drew more than 22 million viewers, while its TCU-Michigan Fiesta Bowl telecast averaged more than 21 million viewers, said Nielsen.

Fox News Channel finished second in primetime with 1.3 million viewers, followed by Paramount Network’s 1.1 million viewers, Hallmark Channel’s 1 million viewers and HGTV’s 832,000 watchers.

MSNBC was sixth with 831,000 viewers, followed by TBS and TLC (tied with 737,000 viewers), INSP (696,000) and CNN (688,000).

ESPN averaged 2.9 million viewers on a total day basis to top all networks, ending Fox News’s winning streak at 51 weeks. The news network finished second with 1 million viewers, followed by Hallmark Channel (662,000 viewers), MSNBC (632,000) and CNN (558,000), Nielsen reported. ■

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.