Most Watched Television Networks: Ranking 2015's Winners and Losers

Michael Schneider
Ratings Watch

Viewership erosion isn't just for the broadcast networks anymore.

In 2015, it was some of ad-supported cable's biggest networks that suffered some of the steepest year-to-year percentage drops. USA, TNT, History, FX, Nick at Nite, A&E, ABC Family, TLC, Bravo and MTV are just some of the key networks with big double-digit declines.

It was a particularly rough year for Viacom, as its key cable networks saw major drops, including Nick at Nite (down 24%), MTV (down 25%) and Comedy Central (down 19%). A+E Networks also saw rough declines, such as A&E (down 25%) and History (down 18%).

Bright spots were AMC, the rare scripted-focused network with an increase (5%), as well as OWN (11%). HGTV (10%) and CNN (28%) were also among the top-rated networks with strong bumps.

Overall, Fox got hit the hardest in the past year (Dec. 29, 2014 to Nov. 29, 2015, which allowed for Live+7 averages), losing nearly 800,000 viewers vs. 2014–a 13% drop.

Here's the ranker of every ad-supported broadcast and cable network in 2015 (with the exception of certain digital networks, as well as cable networks that aren't measured by Nielsen), according to total viewers. Below this chart, we also rank the year's most-watched networks in the adults 18-49 and adults 18-34 demographics.

More Ratings Wrap:

TOTAL VIEWER

RANK

NETWORK

2015 VIEWERS

2014 VIEWERS

% CHANGE

1

CBS

9,419,000

9,375,000

0%

2

NBC

7,757,000

8,264,000

-6%

3

ABC

6,894,000

6,838,000

1%

4

Fox

5,198,000

5,973,000

-13%

5

Univision

2,551,000

2,969,000

-14%

6

ESPN

2,022,000

2,205,000

-8%

7

TBS

1,876,000

1,886,000

-1%

8

USA

1,850,000

2,201,000

-16%

9

Disney Channel

1,784,000

1,955,000

-9%

10

Fox News Channel

1,775,000

1,750,000

1%

11

TNT

1,766,000

2,057,000

-14%

12

The CW

1,745,000

1,655,000

5%

13

Discovery Channel

1,549,000

1,410,000

10%

14

History

1,536,000

1,881,000

-18%

15

HGTV

1,498,000

1,359,000

10%

16

AMC

1,443,000

1,369,000

5%

17

Telemundo

1,441,000

1,327,000

9%

18

Adult Swim

1,307,000

1,344,000

-3%

19

FX

1,251,000

1,449,000

-14%

20

Food Network

1,129,000

1,094,000

3%

21

Lifetime

1,065,000

1,128,000

-6%

22

Nick at Nite

1,027,000

1,344,000

-24%

23

Syfy

1,006,000

1,148,000

-12%

24

ABC Family

985,000

1,145,000

-14%

25

A&E

959,000

1,285,000

-25%

26

TLC

944,000

1,096,000

-14%

27

Investigation Discovery

891,000

816,000

9%

28

Hallmark Channel

881,000

828,000

6%

29

Bravo

872,000

998,000

-13%

30

Spike TV

790,000

911,000

-13%

31

CNN

672,000

525,000

28%

32

Animal Planet

652,000

658,000

-1%

33

Disney Junior

644,000

603,000

7%

34

VH1

642,000

707,000

-9%

35

TV Land

608,000

639,000

-5%

36

MTV

606,000

807,000

-25%

37

BET

598,000

696,000

-14%

38

MSNBC

576,000

592,000

-3%

39

Comedy Central

569,000

703,000

-19%

40

E! Entertainment

568,000

550,000

3%

41

National Geographic

OWN

544,000

544,000

536,000

488,000

1%

11%

43

WE TV

523,000

485,000

8%

44

Tru TV

476,000

644,000

-26%

45

LMN

462,000

495,000

-7%

46

Nick Jr.

440,000

486,000

-9%

47

Travel Channel

438,000

460,000

-5%

48

GSN

434,000

353,000

23%

49

ESPN2

432,000

465,000

-7%

50

FXX

413,000

343,000

20%

51

Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

410,000

329,000

25%

52

Fox Sports 1

406,000

342,000

19%

53

INSP TV

389,000

280,000

39%

54

NBC Sports Network

381,000

307,000

24%

55

CNBC

375,000

270,000

39%

56

Disney XD

370,000

393,000

-6%

57

H2

348,000

392,000

-11%

58

HLN

324,000

339,000

-4%

59

Science Channel

318,000

308,000

3%

60

NFL Network

306,000

326,000

-6%

61

CMT

297,000

350,000

-15%

62

WGN America

287,000

277,000

4%

63

NatGeo Wild

266,000

246,000

8%

64

BBC America

263,000

268,000

-2%

65

Nicktoons

250,000

260,000

-4%

66

Boomerang

248,000

170,000

46%

67

Oxygen

247,000

382,000

-35%

68

Destination America

The Weather Channel

228,000

228,000

228,000

223,000

0%

2%

70

DIY Network

213,000

195,000

9%

71

American Heroes Channel

211,000

228,000

-7%

72

TV One

208,000

161,000

29%

73

Velocity

205,000

174,000

18%

74

Teen Nick

198,000

250,000

-21%

75

FYI

189,000

171,000

11%

76

IFC

177,000

195,000

-9%

77

MTV2

169,000

186,000

-9%

78

Reelzchannel

168,000

163,000

3%

79

Pop TV

Univision Deportes Network

165,000

165,000

171,000

113,000

-4%

46%

81

Sundance Channel

164,000

136,000

21%

82

Sprout

161,000

179,000

-10%

83

Discovery Family Channel

160,000

152,000

5%

84

Galavisión

158,000

145,000

9%

85

MLB Network

148,000

138,000

7%

86

UP

136,000

195,000

-30%

87

Golf Channel

132,000

129,000

2%

88

RFD TV

128,000

138,000

-7%

89

Cooking Channel

127,000

109,000

17%

90

Esquire Network

124,000

99,000

25%

91

FXM

116,000

135,000

-14%

92

ESPN U

113,000

117,000

-3%

93

Discovery en Español

111,000

113,000

-2%

94

NBA TV

103,000

124,000

-17%

95

Fox Business Network

95,000

44,000

116%

96

ESPN News

93,000

100,000

-7%

97

Chiller

89,000

105,000

-15%

98

Smithsonian Channel

88,000

75,000

17%

99

Discovery Life

83,000

108,000

-23%

100

Ovation

74,000

76,000

-3%

101

GAC

72,000

71,000

1%

102

Centric

70,000

76,000

-8%

103

Cloo

68,000

72,000

-6%

104

Logo

66,000

64,000

-6%

105

Fox Desportes

NBC Universo

59,000

59,000

69,000

74,000

-14%

-20%

107

Fuse

51,000

51,000

0%

108

Discovery Familia

49,000

25,000

96%

109

VH1 Classic

48,000

42,000

14%

110

Fox Sports 2

40,000

23,000

74%

111

El Rey

34,000

26,000

31%

112

Al Jazeera America

28,000

21,000

33%

113

BEIN Sports USA

21,000

17,000

24%

Total viewers; 12/29/14-11/30/15

In adults 18-49, NBC rounded out the 2015 calendar year as the leader in adults 18-49; NBC Research notes that this is the Peacock Network's third calendar-year 18-49 win in the past four years.

Among the traditional broadcast networks, ABC managed to stay mostly flat -- quite a feat in this day and age. The CW registered solid gains, while Telemundo (up 8%) is sneaking up on its dominant rival Univision (down 18%),

Meanwhile, AMC became a Top 5 network in the cable space this year, thanks to a remarkable run of hits: Fear the Walking Dead, Better Call Saul and Into the Badlands launched as the three biggest premieres in cable history this year, and AMC has most of the top 50 non-sports telecasts of the year.

Here are the Top 50 networks among adults 18-49 in 2015.

18-49

RANK

NETWORK

2015 VIEWERS

2014 VIEWERS

% CHANGE

1

NBC

2,682,000

2,937,000

-9%

2

ABC

2,401,000

2,392,000

0%

3

CBS

2,390,000

2,567,000

-7%

4

Fox

2,165,000

2,551,000

-15%

5

Univision

1,205,000

1,470,000

-18%

6

ESPN

874,000

963,000

-9%

7

TBS

865,000

942,000

-8%

8

The CW

830,000

810,000

2%

9

Telemundo

759,000

701,000

8%

10

AMC

743,000

675,000

10%

11

USA

734,000

917,000

-20%

12

Adult Swim

677,000

681,000

-1%

13

Discovery Channel

670,000

658,000

2%

14

TNT

656,000

747,000

-12%

15

FX

626,000

766,000

-18%

16

ABC Family

449,000

558,000

-11%

17

History

489,000

653,000

-25%

18

Bravo

488,000

558,000

-13%

19

Food Network

477,000

499,000

-4%

20

HGTV

466,000

435,000

7%

21

Lifetime

457,000

488,000

-6%

22

A&E

411,000

552,000

-26%

23

Syfy

409,000

484,000

-15%

24

Disney Channel

405,000

427,000

-5%

25

VH1

403,000

446,000

-10%

26

Spike TV

396,000

455,000

-13%

27

MTV

388,000

506,000

-23%

28

Comedy Central

379,000

473,000

-20%

29

TLC

374,000

467,000

-20%

30

Nick at Nite

341,000

406,000

-16%

31

E! Entertainment

327,000

320,000

2%

32

Investigation Discovery

301,000

285,000

6%

33

BET

293,000

330,000

-11%

34

Tru TV

239,000

298,000

-20%

35

FXX

236,000

191,000

24%

36

Animal Planet

230,000

250,000

-8%

37

Fox News Channel

225,000

205,000

10%

38

National Geographic

203,000

220,000

-8%

39

OWN

189,000

179,000

6%

40

WE TV

187,000

188,000

-1%

41

Disney Junior

185,000

170,000

9%

42

LMN

TV Land

182,000

182,000

183,000

182,000

-1%

0%

44

Hallmark Channel

181,000

167,000

8%

45

CNN

Travel Channel

179,000

179,000

147,000

206,000

22%

-13%

47

Fox Sports 1

174,000

139,000

25%

48

ESPN2

154,000

172,000

-18%

49

NBC Sports Network

152,000

146,000

4%

50

NFL Network

147,000

157,000

-6%

18-49 viewers;12/29/14-11/30/15

Here's another milestone in the history of TV's so-called "end times": No network managed to even average a million viewers in 2015 among adults 18-34. As younger demos find alternative platforms to view TV, traditional delivery continues to suffer.

Networks targeting young adults like MTV and ABC Family suffered big declines. But the trend isn't across the board: The CW actually increased its 18-34 viewership in 2015, while demo cable leader Adult Swim kept its declines to a minimum.

18-34

RANK

NETWORK

2015 VIEWERS

2014 VIEWERS

% CHANGE

1

NBC

989,000

1,155,000

-14%

2

ABC

953,000

966,000

-1%

3

Fox

899,000

1,118,000

-20%

4

CBS

778,000

860,000

-10%

5

Univision

548,000

680,000

-10%

6

Adult Swim

445,000

464,000

-4%

7

ESPN

416,000

468,000

-11%

8

TBS

392,000

466,000

-16%

9

The CW

371,000

363,000

2%

10

USA

355,000

464,000

-23%

11

 Telemundo

353,000

330,000

7%

12

AMC

343,000

334,000

3%

13

FX

302,000

393,000

-23%

14

ABC Family

294,000

341,000

-14%

15

TNT

283,000

328,000

-14%

16

MTV

276,000

364,000

-24%

17

Discovery Channel

253,000

248,000

2%

18

Comedy Central

250,000

325,000

-23%

19

VH1

238,000

272,000

-13%

20

Disney Channel

220,000

237,000

-7%

21

Food Network

214,000

209,000

2%

22

Lifetime

211,000

226,000

-7%

23

Nick at Nite

208,000

259,000

-20%

24

Bravo

202,000

255,000

-21%

25

E! Entertainment

190,000

194,000

-2%

18-34 viewers; 12/29/14-11/30/15