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Fox News tops broadcast networks for first time in 3rd quarter

Fox News topped broadcast networks ABC, CBS and NBC in total viewers for the first time in the third quarter of 2020 and was the most-watched network on television, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The numbers come during a particularly heavy news cycle that included the COVID-19 pandemic, the Democratic and Republican national conventions, unrest in U.S. cities and a brewing Supreme Court battle following the death of Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgBarrett starts fraught first week as Supreme Court faces fights over election, abortion rights Bitter fight over Barrett fuels calls to nix filibuster, expand court Barrett to use Supreme Court chambers previously used by Ruth Bader Ginsburg MORE.

The network averaged 3.51 million viewers in prime-time in July, August and September, an increase of 44 percent when compared to the same quarter in 2019.

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Fox's "Hannity" finished the quarter as the most-watched show in cable news, averaging approximately 4.45 million viewers. "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" was second with 4.35 million viewers, followed by "The Five" with 3.48 million, and "The Ingraham Angle" with 3.43 million viewers.

MSNBC also saw record numbers in the third quarter, scoring 2.2 million total viewers in prime-time for the first time in the network's 24-year history.

"The 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 again MSNBC's top-rated show, averaging 3.3 million viewers to finish fifth overall in cable news.

MSNBC also set a record, with the network’s prime-time programs drawing 2.2 million total viewers, the network’s best delivery in the time period.

CNN finished third among the three major cable news networks with an average of about 1.53 million viewers, an increase of 56 percent when compared to the same quarter last year.

The network's most-watched program was "Chris CuomoChris CuomoTrump aide accuses CNN's Chris Cuomo of breaking quarantine while COVID-19 positive in heated interview Last hurrah for the establishment media CNN's Lemon: Asking Biden, Harris about 'hypothetical' court packing 'not a legitimate question' MORE Primetime," which averaged 1.72 million viewers in finishing 20th overall in cable news.

In the younger demographic of viewers aged 25-54 that advertisers are most attracted by, Tucker Carlson finished first with an average of 781,000 viewers. Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityTrump calls Fox 'disappointing' for airing Obama speech Graham dismisses criticism from Fox Business's Lou Dobbs Biden: Johnson should be 'ashamed' for suggesting family profited from their name MORE was second with 775,000 viewers in the category, followed by Laura IngrahamLaura Anne IngrahamTrump calls Fox 'disappointing' for airing Obama speech Fox's Ingraham: 'Biden-COVID ticket' using 'virus panic button' to 'scare old people into voting' Trump's test sparks fears of spread: Here's who he met in last week MORE and "The Five," with 624,000 and 527,000 viewers, respectively. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow rounded out the top five with 504,000.