IN Q1, CNN POSTS DOUBLE-DIGIT GAINS VS. A YEAR AGO; MSNBC SHEDS ALMOST HALF ITS AUDIENCE
March 31st, 2015
01:17 PM ET

IN Q1, CNN POSTS DOUBLE-DIGIT GAINS VS. A YEAR AGO; MSNBC SHEDS ALMOST HALF ITS AUDIENCE

CNN HAS LARGEST QUARTERLY LEAD OVER MSNBC IN 8 YEARS

 CNN’s New Day Beats MSNBC’s Morning Joe for Third Quarter in a Row

MSNBC Primetime Programming Hits Record Lows; Loses 45% of Audience

MSNBC Dayside Hits Lowest in 17 Years

CNN Original Series Post Strong Ratings this Quarter

CNN’s ratings momentum continued this quarter, with the network ranking #2 in cable news in the first quarter Total Day in both total viewers and the demo 25-54, ahead of MSNBC by its largest quarterly lead in over eight years (since 3Q-06) among 25-54 and by more than five years (since 3Q-09) in total viewers.  CNN also outperformed MSNBC this quarter in M-Su/M-F in the demo rating, and tied MSNBC in M-Su total viewers.  CNN has now beat MSNBC in Total Day for the fourth straight quarter among both total viewers and the demo, in M-Su Prime for the fourth straight quarter among 25-54 and in M-F Prime for the third straight quarter in the key demo 25-54.  This is the longest streak across these dayparts and demos in over six years (since 4Q-08).

CNN (and HLN) also had big ratings gains this quarter, with all four dayparts up from year-ago levels, while MSNBC posted the biggest declines in cable news. CNN’s weekday primetime programs all grew compared to a year ago and outperformed MSNBC across the 7pm, 8pm, 9pm and 10pm hours in the demo 25-54 for the third consecutive quarter; while MSNBC lost 45% of its primetime audience. CNN’s New Day topped MSNBC’s Morning Joe for the third quarter in a row; beating Joe in both total viewers and the demo rating.  CNN also posted the largest increases in daytime (9a-4p) among both total viewers (+26%) and demo (+24%), while MSNBC daytime is down -56% to 42k in the demo, its lowest in nearly 17 years (since 2Q 1998; 27k).  CNN Original Series had a strong ratings performance as well this quarter.

This quarter, MSNBC experienced lows in key dayparts dating back at least 10 years.  In Total Day and M-F Prime, MSNBC registered its lowest quarterly levels among 25-54 (since 2Q 2005) and its lowest in total viewers (since 4Q 2007).  The network posted its lowest M-Su Prime performance in 25-54 (since 2Q 2006) and lowest in total viewers (since 4Q 2007).  MSNBC programming at 7p and 8p had the lowest demo delivery in nearly 10 years (since 2Q 2005) with All in with Chris Hayes, which debuted in 2Q-13, delivering its lowest ratings on record.  MSNBC’s flagship program, The Rachel Maddow Show (launched in 3Q 2008) also averaged its lowest quarterly 25-54 performance on record, as did the Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell at 10pm.  During weekday mornings, MSNBC’s Morning Joe is posting its lowest quarterly performance among 25-54 in over seven years (since 4Q 2007) and among P2+ in seven years (since 1Q 2008).

cnn ratingsclick on graph above to view full-size

CNN First Quarter 2015 Program Highlights: 

  • CNN’S New Day (6-9am) beat Morning Joe for the third straight quarter in both total viewers (365k vs. MSNBC’s 328k) and the demo rating (125k vs. MSNBC’s 82k), posting its largest quarterly advantage on record in both demos while MSNBC is pacing at its lowest quarterly performance in seven years. This represents New Day’s highest quarterly demo and total viewer levels on record, and the program’s biggest quarterly share of cable news morning audience on record.  This quarter, Morning Joe is down from a year ago by double-digit percentages in both the demo and total viewers, seeing the biggest loss across cable news in 25-54.  
  • The Lead with Jake Tapper (4pm) ranked #2 in cable news at 4pm, easily topping MSNBC in both total viewers (595k vs. MSNBC’s 312k) and the demo 25-54 (156k vs. 49k).  The Lead also posted solid growth this quarter, increasing +30% in total viewers and +27% in the demo.  MSNBC was down -23%/-53% respectively.  
  • The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer (5-7pm) also had a very strong quarter, easily topping MSNBC in both total viewers and the demo.  The Blitzer-led program was also up +16% in total viewers and up +24% in the demo 25-54 vs. a year ago.  MSNBC’s The Ed Show (5pm) was down -58% and Politics Nation (6pm) declined -52% in the demo from a year ago.
  • Erin Burnett Outfront (7pm) easily beat MSNBC’s Hardball in the demo (195k vs. 127k).  EBOF grew double-digits in both total viewers (+36%) and the demo (+31%) vs. last year.  Hardball was down -44% in the demo and -21% in total viewers vs. year ago.
  • Anderson Cooper 360 (8pm) ranked #2 in cable news, topping MSNBC’s All in with Chris Hayes in both total viewers (619k vs. 601k) and in the demo (209k vs. 117k). AC 360 also grew vs. a year ago, increasing +11% in total viewers and +14% in the demo. MSNBC’s Hayes decreased -21%/-47% vs. last year.
  • CNN programming at 9pm ranked #2 in the demo in cable news this quarter, increasing +8% in total viewers (552k) and +21% in the demo (204k) from first quarter a year ago.  MSNBC’s flagship primetime program The Rachel Maddow Show trailed CNN this quarter, ranking #3 in the demo (152k), shedding -46% of its audience from a year ago.
  • CNN programming at 10pm (mostly CNN Tonight) topped MSNBC in the demo this quarter (172k vs. MSNBC’s 114k).  At 10pm, CNN increased +5% in the demo – while MSNBC declined -44% and slipped to 4th place.
  • Smerconish ranked #2 in total viewers and the demo – increasing +32% in total viewers and +9% in the demo on Saturdays at 9am.
  • Fareed Zakaria GPS ranked #2 in both total viewers and the demo 25-54 at 10am and 1pm on Sundays.  GPS grew in both demos, both hours; while MSNBC declined double-digits.
  • Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter ranked #2 this quarter in both total viewers (561k) and among 25-54 (151k) at 11am.  RS increased +26% in total viewers and +12% in the demo vs. last year, while MSNBC was down double-digits and Fox News’ Media Buzz was flat.

CNN Original Series registered strong ratings this quarter: 

  • Morgan Spurlock Inside Man averaged 242k P25-54 and 544k P2+ over its eight Thursday 9p-10p premieres (1/22-3/19/15) in Season 3.
    • Strongest season performance ever among both P25-54 and P2+.
    • Ranked #2 in P25-54 across cable news in its time period, +55% ahead of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show (156k).
    • Attracted the youngest audience (median age of 54 years) across cable news in its time period.
  • Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery averaged 375k P25-54 and 1,143k P2+ over its four Sunday 9p-10p premieres to-date (3/1-3/22/15).
    • Ranks #1 across cable news in its time period among both P25-54 and P2+, outperforming the combined delivery of FXNC and MSNBC in both demos.
    • Every premiere episode to-date of Finding Jesus has also ranked #1 across cable news in its time period among both P25-54 and P2+.
    • Up from Live to most current time shifted viewing by +40% among P25-54 (375k vs. 267k) and +30% in P2+ (1,143k vs. 881k).
  • The Wonder List with Bill Weir has averaged 245k P25-54 and 661k P2+ over its four Sunday 10p-11p premieres to-date (3/1-3/22/15).
    • Ranks #1 across cable news in its time period among both P25-54 and P2+.
    • Up from Live to most current time shifted viewing by +12% among P25-54 (245k vs. 218k) and +16% in P2+ (661k vs. 572k).

CNN Films this quarter: 

  • The premiere of CNN Films: Life Itself (Sun 1/4/15, 9p-11p) delivered 213k P25-54 and 590k P2+.
    • Ranked #1 across cable news in its time period among both demos, more than doubling FXNC in P25-54 and MSNBC in P2+.
    • Of the 16 CNN Films and 3 CNN Films Presents premieres to-date, was the first to win its time period in P2+.

End of month, March 2015:

  • CNN ranked second in March, topping MSNBC in both Total Day (in total viewers and demo rating) and in M-Su/M-F Primetime in the key demo rating.
  • CNN outperformed MSNBC at 7pm, 8pm, 9pm and 10pm among adults 25-54 for the eight straight month.
  • The cable news networks were mostly down in March vs. a year ago due to the extremely heavy viewer tune-in after the disappearance of Malaysia flight #370.
  • New Day beat MSNBC’s Morning Joe for the ninth straight month among the 25-54 demo rating, the longest streak since its debut in June 2013.
  • MSNBC continued to see monthly lows in the demo rating in March: second lowest Total Day since June 2005, third lowest Primetime since June 2006, All In with Chris Hayes second lowest ever since debut, The Rachel Maddow Show second lowest on record and Morning Joe second lowest delivery in over seven years.
  • MSNBC daytime (9am-4pm) registered its 2nd lowest monthly 25-54 delivery (38k) in over 15 years (since October 1999; 33k), after February 2015 (37k).

Data is a blend of Nielsen Live+SD and the more inclusive Live+3 and final Live+7 data when available.  Original Series data is through 3-22-15.

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