Fox News lands third in cable news ratings with riot, elections coverage

By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Fox News Channel, which ended 2020 as the most-watched network in all of basic cable, finished third among cable news channels last week as power shifted in the U.S. Senate and rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, Nielsen data showed on Tuesday.

AT&T Inc's CNN topped cable networks with roughly 2.8 million viewers per day from Jan. 4 through Sunday, and 4.2 million in primetime, according to the ratings data.

For that same period, Comcast Corp's MSNBC attracted 2.3 million per day and 3.8 million in primetime. Fox News, owned by Rupert Murdoch's Fox Corp, drew about 1.7 million per day and 3.2 million in primetime.

Newsmax, a smaller rival that has been promoted by President Trump, said it saw record ratings in primetime of 443,000 for the week. Its total day ratings averaged 294,000. Newsmax does not provide full-time news coverage on weekends.

During the week, the networks covered elections in Georgia that gave Democrats control of the U.S. Senate and the storming of the Capitol by the president's supporters.

Fox News finished 2020 with record ratings that made it the most-watched network on basic cable for the fifth straight year .

After the Nov. 3 election, Trump ramped up his criticism of Fox News and urged supporters to watch alternatives such as Newsmax and One America News Network, which is not rated by Nielsen.

CNN has topped Fox in some metrics since the election, but Fox's opinion hosts have continued to dominate primetime. "Tucker Carlson Tonight" has drawn 4 million viewers on average while "Hannity" has pulled in 3.7 million.

On Monday, Fox announced it would add another hour of opinion programming at 7 p.m., among other changes.

CNN also announced shifts to its schedule, including expanding Jake Tapper's daily show to two hours and adding a Sunday program hosted by Abby Phillip. (Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Additional reporting by Helen Coster in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)