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Fox News hits highest viewership in network's 23-year history

Fox News averaged 2.5 million viewers per night in 2019, the most in its 23-year history, making the network the most-watched channel on basic cable.

According to Nielsen Media Research, Fox News beat out ESPN, with its 1.78 million viewers, and third-place MSNBC, which drew an average of 1.75 million viewers in prime time. Fox topped its cable competitors for a fourth straight year, Nielsen said.

CNN finished 22nd, with an average of 972,000 viewers per night.

The top five shows in cable news for 2019 were Fox's "Hannity," with 3.3 million, followed by "Tucker CarlsonTucker CarlsonCable news October ratings explode as Fox News hits historic highs Trump aide accuses CNN's Chris Cuomo of breaking quarantine while COVID-19 positive in heated interview Tucker Carlson to interview Hunter Biden business partner and discuss 'new allegations' MORE Tonight," with 3.1 million.

MSNBC's "Rachel MaddowRachel Anne MaddowCable news October ratings explode as Fox News hits historic highs Maddow: Trump owes Welker an apology Hillicon Valley: Five takeaways on new election interference from Iran, Russia | Schumer says briefing on Iranian election interference didn't convince him effort was meant to hurt Trump | Republicans on Senate panel subpoena Facebook, Twitter CEOs | MORE Show" was third, with 2.78 million, followed by Fox's "The Ingraham Angle," with 2.57 million, and "The Five" at 2.55 million.

Carlson and Maddow switched places in the 2019 rankings compared to the previous year, when Maddow claimed the No. 2 ranking. 

Among broadcast networks, CBS took the top spot with an average of 7.14 million viewers in prime time. NBC was second, with 6.33 million, followed by ABC, with 5.19 million. Fox TV was fourth, at 4.62 million, but it was the only broadcast network among the four to increase viewership from 2018.