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 CarlsonSoured on Fox, Trump may be seeking new propaganda outlet America is dying to reelect Trump Trump tweets clip of 'Independence Day' with himself, allies edited in MORE Tonight," with 3.1 million.

MSNBC's "Rachel MaddowRachel Anne MaddowMinneapolis erupts for third night as protests spread, Trump vows retaliation Judge dismisses One America News defamation lawsuit against Rachel Maddow Whitmer: 'Disappointing' to see Trump not wear mask during Ford visit 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.