Leading Cable TV Networks in the USA for 2018

Over the first quarter of 2018, cable news continued to dominate the cable TV ratings, with three of the top ten most-watched cable TV channels being 24-hour news networks. Topping the ratings list is the right-leaning Fox News, with the left-leading MSNBC coming in second and CNN coming in sixth in daily viewers.

TNT was boosted in the first quarter by its NBA coverage, coming in third place. Kids programming comes in fourth with Nickelodeon, and those who love home decorating and remodeling related programming have brought Home and Garden TV (HGTV) to the fifth place spot. After CNN, the rest of the top ten is rounded out by Investigation Discovery (ID) in seventh, ESPN in eighth, USA Network in Ninth, and the History Channel in tenth.

All of these channels are available with even the most basic packages from Spectrum cable TV. This wide availability means that customers from Bowling Green, KY to Greenville, SC, Franklin, TN to Bell Gardens, CA can all experience the nation’s most popular channels and programming at an affordable rate, with convenient installation and reliable service.

Here is the full top ten list, with daily viewership figures, via Statista:

  1. Fox News Channel – 1,396,000
  2. MSNBC – 1,005,000
  3. TNT – 860,000
  4. Nickelodeon – 834,000
  5. HGTV – 774,000
  6. CNN – 725,000
  7. ID – 707,000
  8. ESPN – 628,000
  9. USA Network – 637,000
  10. History – 536,000

Check back often at the TV, Internet, and Phone Blog for more facts and updates about cable TV, high speed internet, and more, including upcoming big events on cable TV.

Trump’s Speech Nabbed 32 Million Viewers on Broadcast and Cable TV

The Republican National Convention closed up shop last Thursday, concluding with the lengthy nomination acceptance speech by presidential hopeful Donald Trump. All three broadcast networks—ABC, CBS and NBC—as well as Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC and other affiliated cable TV channels aired the speech.

More from the Hollywood Reporter:

On the broadcast networks alone Thursday night, Trump’s time on the stage brought in 12.3 million viewers to the 10 o’clock hour on through the speech’s conclusion at 11:37 p.m. ET. NBC News led its fourth and final night of primetime coverage with an average 4.6 million viewers tuning in, per Nielsen Media’s Fast Affiliate ratings. ABC News, which preciously topped CBS on Monday, averaged 3.9 million viewers. CBS News took 3.8 million viewers. Spanish-language net Univision contributed another 1.3 million viewers.

Cable news brought the biggest lifts — particularly for Fox News Channel and CNN. FNC, a favorite for right-leaning audiences, topped them all with 9.4 million viewers. And CNN, hitting an all-time high for its RNC coverage, also topped all of the broadcast networks with 5.5 million viewers. MSNBC, trailing, averaged 2.95 million viewers. (Nielsen’s delivery of the 32-million stat also includes Fox Business Network, CNBC and NBC Universo.)

The ratings are well above those who watched Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech in 2012, but far below the amount of people who watched John McCain in 2008. If those ratings show anything about the popularity of the candidate himself, Trump may be in trouble.

The Democratic National Convention is now underway, so we’ll see how Hillary performs in the ratings, as well as in measured social media interest.

NBC to Provide Most Live Olympic Broadcast and Cable TV Coverage Ever

NBC and its related networks have covered the Olympics for years, with the major constant complaint about the networks’ coverage being that it doesn’t show enough in the way of live sports. NBC has responded to this complaint by saying that this Summer Games will feature the most live coverage of any Olympics that has ever happened, with 6,755 hours over many channels, most of them on cable TV. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • NBC – Opening and Closing Ceremonies, Beach Volleyball, Diving, Gymnastics, Swimming, Track & Field, Volleyball, Men’s and Women’s Basketball Gold Medal Games
  • NBCSN – Team USA Soccer, Team USA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Games, Track & Field, Archery, Boxing, Cycling, Fencing, Field Hockey, Judo, Open Water Swimming, Rugby, Shooting, Soccer, Synchronized Swimming, Table Tennis, Weightlifting, Wrestling
  • Bravo – Tennis
  • CNBC – Basketball, Volleyball, Archery, Beach Volleyball, Cycling, Rugby, Water Polo, Wrestling
  • Golf Channel – Golf
  • MSNBC – Men’s Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Rugby, Soccer, Volleyball, Water Polo
  • USA Network – Women’s Soccer, Beach Volleyball, Cycling, Men’s Basketball, Rowing, Synchronized Swimming, Volleyball, Water Polo
  • NBC Universo/Telemundo – Mexican National Team Soccer and Various Sports with Spanish Language Coverage
  • Specialized Channels – There will be specialized channels for basketball and soccer

Enjoy the games, and thanks to Awful Announcing for the information.

Obama Courting Cable TV Commentators to Push Through Legislation

According to the US News and World Report, Barack Obama is courting cable TV commentators from the liberal end of the spectrum in order to campaign in public for the passage of tax cuts for the middle class and tax increases for the rich. The President met with MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, Ed Schultz and Al Sharpton, as well as Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of Huffington Post. The blog outlines the strategy while also pointing out the hypocrisy of the President saying he does not pay much attention to cable news shows:

Oddly, the meeting followed by a few hours an interview Tuesday with Bloomberg TV in which Obama said he doesn’t pay much attention to cable news shows. “I don’t really spend a lot of time on, you know, what folks say on cable news programs, ” the president said.

He has made similar remarks before and has told friends that cable TV tends to sensationalize and trivialize the news. He discussed the cable issue after he was asked about recent criticism of Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Obama suggested that cable shows had hyped the Rice criticism.

But his distaste for cable chatter hasn’t prevented Obama from using cable TV for his own purposes. The meeting with the liberal commentators was part of Obama’s effort to generate support for his budget plan. He wants media figures on the left to stir up grassroots support for his plan and opposition to House Republicans who oppose any increase in tax rates, including higher levies on the wealthy.

Obama and congressional leaders are trying to negotiate an agreement to avoid automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that are scheduled to take effect next year. Some economists say the automatic provisions could trigger another recession.

We at the TV, Internet and Phone Blog have often covered how the different cable channels cater to different ends of the political spectrum. Here is yet another example.

Fox News Wins Cable TV Debate Ratings

According to Maboot, Fox News Channel, the most conservative-leaning of the three major cable news networks, won the cable TV ratings battle for presidential debate coverage. 10.436 million people tuned for the debate between President Barack Obama and Republican hopeful on Fox News, up from 8.2 million four years ago. CNN came in second among cable news channels, with 6.1 million viewers, and MSNBC brought up the rear with 4.7 million viewers.

The winner in total was ABC, which led the broadcast networks and all the cable news channels with 11.25 million viewers. The network’s post-debate coverage drew almost 9 million viewers. Overall, viewership for the debates was up significantly from four years ago, with 67 million people in total watching the first presidential debate, 15 million more than watched the first debate between Obama and McCain four years ago.

There are a number of theories as to why Fox News is winning the cable wars when it comes to election coverage. The presence of a democratic president that many are not satisfied with may have led viewers to a network that tends to be more critical of the president. Republicans who might not have paid as much attention in past years seem more excited about the potential of upending the chance for a second term for Obama.

Also, the younger viewers that made up the core of Obama’s base are tuning out in droves, either thinking that Obama has no chance of losing, or being disappointed in how few of his initiatives he actually followed through upon.

It can be dangerous to conflate television ratings with voting blocs, but it does seem like the Republican base is mobilized for this election, perhaps more than in 2008, and that is reflected in the Fox ratings. Add to that the fact that many agree Romney “won” the first debate and it’s interesting to see what will happen with the next one, both on the dais and in the ratings.

CNN Struggling in Cable TV News Election Coverage

The flagship 24-hour cable TV news channel, CNN, is struggling, with its prime-time audience having plunged more than 40% compared with four years ago, with competitors Fox News and MSNBC having posted double-digit increases in viewership in the same time. According to the Los Angeles Times, change is long overdue in how CNN covers the presidential election and other major events, but there is some debate as to what that change should be.

Many pundits believe to compete with the other cable TV news channels, CNN will have to abandon its mantra that “News is the Star,” coined by creator Ted Turner decades ago when CNN was just a fledgling cable channel trying to get a foothold. Cable TV subscribers are increasingly wanting more opinion-based news coverage, particularly when it comes to political news, with more liberal viewers tuning into the left-leaning MSNBC and more conservative viewers attaching themselves to the coverage provided by the right-wing punditry of Fox News. Many analysts believe that CNN, in order to compete, will have to provide more opinion-based coverage. They are already doing so with Piers Morgan, who has replaced Larry King as the network’s flagship interviewer, and is definitely not shy about voicing his opinion.

In the past few years, the only times CNN has really been atop the ratings was with big, short-term news events, such as the shooting in Aurora or the Sikh Temple shooting. But once that news has been broken, viewers return to the more opinion-based networks.

CNN is at a turning point. The network is responsible for popularizing the 24-hour cable TV news cycle, but that cycle is even quicker now due to Twitter and online websites breaking news much more quickly. News can no longer be the star; so what will CNN do to find their next star?

Cable TV News is No Longer Where News Breaks

For a generation of people, say those younger than 30, though there are many who are older than that for whom this is often true, cable TV news is no longer where news is broken. Social media, particularly Twitter, is now where much of the world’s political, economic, even sports news is broken. This presents a challenge not only for journalists who are scrambling to keep up with the social media world, but for cable TV news networks like CNN, MSNBC, and Fox, who are often reacting to the news rather than breaking it.

The 24-hour cable TV news model largely replaced the afternoon editions of daily newspapers in major cities, with the ability to break news quickly on screen rather than having to wait for a publishing time shouldering aside the older, slower model. Now the same thing is happening to cable TV news with what’s going on with Twitter, online news sites, and other media.

So what should cable TV do? David Frum, a CNN contributor, has three ideas:

  1. Focus on the personalities on the networks. News is no longer the star, as it has already been broken online, so the only reason for people to tune in is if the cable TV news networks give them something they’ll want to watch. This means people need to like and trust the people on screen.
  2. Use the 24 hours of programming to actually deepen the knowledge of what news stories are breaking. The time should not be used to break news, but rather expand on the news that is broken online.
  3. Cable TV news audiences are niche audiences. Appeal to these niche audiences by providing smarter, more in-depth programming.

Will cable TV news go extinct? Probably not. But some changes need to be made to bring it up to date in the 21st Century.