CNN Tops MSNBC in Total Day, Dayside and Weekends in December

January 4, 2019

In December, CNN surpassed MSNBC in total day for the 54th straight month among adults 25-54 (199k vs. 185k) and registered the network’s second-highest December on record among total viewers (749k), just behind 2001 and the third highest since 2001 among adults 25-54 (behind 2017, 2008). In the prime time daypart, CNN had its third-best December in 18 years in total viewers (997k), just after 2015 and 2001 and since 2008 among adults 25-54 (285k), behind 2015 and 2017.  All CNN prime time programs had their best December ratings on record and were up double digits in total viewers vs. last year.

For a record 58 consecutive months, CNN topped MSNBC during dayside (217k vs. 180k) among adults 25-54, the longest streak in history. This is CNN’s second-highest December dayside on record in total viewers (915k, behind 2001) and third best since 2001 among 25-54 (212k), behind 2017 and 2008.  On weekends, CNN ranked #1 in cable news in total day with 149k, Fox followed with 144k and MSNBC lagged with 103k among adults 25-54.  In weekend prime time, CNN topped MSNBC (139k vs. 104k). CNN outperformed MSNBC for all 24 hours and Fox for 12 hours on Saturdays, and on Sundays topped MSNBC for 22 out of 24 hours and Fox for 16 hours.

Several key CNN programs ranked #1 in December overtaking both Fox and MSNBC among adults 25-54, and for the first time, Cuomo Prime Timeovertook Hannity and CNN Tonight with Don Lemon beat Fox’s Ingraham.

Key CNN Programs Rank #1 in Cable News in the Key Demo Adults 25-54:

  • Erin Burnett Outfront (7pm) was #1 in December with 321k, Fox’s The Story followed with 303k and MSNBC’s Hardball had 279k. This was the first time the Burnett-led program ranked #1 since May 2017 and before that, October 2016.  The program has now topped MSNBC for the seventh consecutive month.  EBOF also grew the most in total viewers at 7pm, increasing +21% (1.108m) vs. last year, while Fox was down -19% and MSNBC was flat. This is EBOF’s best December on record among total viewers and second highest on record in 25-54 (just behind 2017).
  • The Lead with Jake Tapper (4pm) was #1 in cable news this month averaging 258k, MSNBC’s Deadline White House followed with 238k and Fox’s Your World was third with 233k.  The Lead has ranked #1 for four of the past six months.  The Tapper-led program was up +19% in total viewers vs. last year. This is The Lead’s highest December on record among both total viewers and adults 25-54.
  • Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin (3pm) was easily the top-rated cable news program during this hour with 227k, Fox’s Shep Smith Reporting was second with 191k and MSNBC’s Live was third with 178k. The last time Newsroom ranked #1 at 3p was September 2018 and before that, June 2017. The Baldwin-led news program grew +11% in total viewers compared to last year.

Other CNN programs ranked #1 in cable news in December including: Early Start with Christine Romans and Dave Briggs, New Day Saturday, CNN Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield (Sat/Sun), CNN Newsroom with Ana Cabrera (Sat/Sun) S.E. Cupp UnfilteredThe Axe Files with David Axelrod and The Van Jones Show.  State of the Union with Jake Tapper (noon) was also #1 in cable news now for eight of the past 12 months and Fareed Zakaria: GPS (1pm), was top-rated for the first time since August 2018 in the key demo adults 25-54.

CNN News Program December Highlights:

  • Anderson Cooper 360 (8pm) drew more viewers than MSNBC’s All in with Chris Hayes in the key demo adults 25-54 (359k vs. 330k) for the sixth straight month.  This is AC 360’s best December on record among total viewers (1.289 million) and third highest in 25-54 (following 2015, 2017).  The Cooper-led program is up +18% among total viewers vs. 2017.
  • Cuomo Prime Time (9pm) – for the first time since the program launched in June, Cuomo Prime Time beat Fox’s Hannity/Hannity Specials in the key demographic adults 25-54 (397k vs. 391k).  This is also the first time since October 2001 that CNN overall has outperformed Fox in the 9pm time period.  The Cuomo-led program continues as CNN’s #1 news program this month in both adults 25-54 (397k) and total viewers (1.382million).  The show was also up +28% in total viewers and +2% in adults 25-54.  Cuomo delivered the network’s overall highest 9pm December ratings in 17 years (since December 2001).
  • CNN Tonight with Don Lemon (10pm) – for the first month ever, the Lemon-led program topped Fox’s third place The Ingraham Angle/Ingraham Specials in adults 25-54 (350k vs. Fox’s 335k). This is also the first time since March 2011 that CNN overall has outperformed Fox in the 10pm time period.  The program is up an impressive +25% in total viewers (1.162 million) and +4% in adults 25-54 vs. last year.   This is CNN Tonight’s best December on record among both total viewers and the demo 25-54.  At 11pm, CNN Tonight ranked #2 topping Fox News At Night (291k vs. 254k).  The 11pm hour was also up +15% in total viewers and +5% in the demo vs. last year.
  • The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer outperformed MSNBC at both 5pm (289k vs. 228k) and at 6pm (284k vs. 253k) for the seventh straight month among adults 25-54.  This is the Blitzer-led program’s highest December ever among total viewers at both 5pm and 6pm. It is also the program’s highest December ever among 25-54 at 5p and 2nd highest ever at 6p (behind only 2017). At 5pm, the program is up +22% in total viewers and +2% vs. last year.  And at 6pm, The Sit Room is up +16% in total viewers.
  • New Day with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman (6-9amhad its second-highest December on record among both adults 25-54 (170k) and total viewers (572k) just after 2017.  This is also the overall network’s third-highest December on record among total viewers (behind 2017, 2001) and third since 2003 among 25-54 (behind 2017, 2008).

Other Key CNN Programs Rank #2 in Cable News, Surpass MSNBC:

Other CNN programs including, CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto, At This Hour with Kate Bolduan, Inside Politics with John King (weekday), CNN Right Now with Brianna Keilar, and Smerconish, all easily surpassed MSNBC this month, posting higher demo 25-54 audiences.  On Sunday mornings, Inside Politics with John King (8am), State of the Union with Jake Tapper (9am), Fareed Zakaria GPS (10am) and Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter (11am,) all posted more viewers in the key demo 25-54 than MSNBC, ranking #2 in cable news.

All of CNN’s New Year’s Special Programming Ranked #1 in Cable News:

  • CNN’s New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen was the second highest rated among 25-54 during the 8pm-12:30am time period, second only to last year’s debut with Cohen as co-host.  This year, CNN was #1 in cable news averaging 786k, Fox News followed with 262k and MSNBC had 164k among adults 25-54.  In total viewers, CNN was top rated with 1.820 million, Fox had 1.383 million and MSNBC had 1.075 million.  During the 11pm-12:30am time period, Cooper and Cohen easily beat MSNBC and Fox combined among all demos.  In total viewers, CNN had 2.797 million, Fox had 1.840 million and MSNBC averaged 691k.  Among 25-54, CNN was top rated with 1.197 million, Fox News had 358k and MSNBC had 113k. The CNN special also attracted a much younger audience than MSNBC or Fox News, posting a median age of 52 years vs. MSNBC’s 68 years and Fox’s 64 years during the 11pm-12:30am time period.
  • CNN’s New Year’s Eve Live with Don Lemon and Brooke Baldwin special (12:30-1am) was #1 in its time period, delivering 1.837 million total viewers, +51% more than Fox’s 1.218 million and +246% more than MSNBC’s 531k.  In the demo adults 25-54, CNN topped MSNBC and Fox combined with 778k, to Fox’s 259k and MSNBC’s 93k.
  • CNN Films: Love, Gilda debuted at #1 in cable news in both total viewers and among adults 25-54 (January 1, 9-10:45pm).  In total viewers, Love, Gilda averaged 1.271 million total viewers, +24% more than Fox’s 1.027 million and a +136% lead over MSNBC’s 539k.  In the key demographic adults 25-54, the film attracted 299k, +82% more than MSNBC’s 164k and +108% more than Fox’s 144k.

All of Cable:

Among ALL cable networks, CNN ranked #7 in total viewers in total day this month.  This marks the 12th straight month that CNN is a Top 10 cable network among total viewers in total day. In M-F prime time, CNN ranked #7 in total viewers, making this the sixth straight month that CNN ranks as a Top 10 cable network.   CNN was also ranked #1 in ALL of cable among adults 25-54 and total viewers for the New Year’s Eve Live w/ Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen special from 11pm-12:30am.

Digital Lift:

In December 2018, live viewing on digital has provided a 2% lift to the CNN linear audience.