CNN Momentum Grows But Still No. 3 in Primetime

MSNBC is No. 2 in viewers, key demo; CNN notches daytime gains

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Courtesy of CNN

It may be the No. 3 in primetime, but CNN seems to have some ratings momentum.

For the first time in two years, CNN has topped MSNBC for a second consecutive quarter in both total-day viewers and adults 25-54 rating, according to Nielsen. MSNBC remained a bit ahead of CNN in primetime, but both lag well behind longtime ratings king Fox News.

MSNBC ranked second in weekday primetime, topping CNN among total viewers (621,000 vs. CNN’s 555,000) and A25-54 (178,000 vs. CNN’s 177,000). MSNBC also ranked #2 in Monday- Sunday primetime among key demo 25-54 (190,000 vs. CNN’s 179,000) and total viewers (568,000 vs. CNN’s 542,000).

Still, every CNN weekend program was up vs. last year in the quarter while competitors Fox News and MSNBC were down double-digits.

With 422,000 total viewers, CNN also improved its numbers over last year (up 9%), while MSNBC (377,000, down 27%) and Fox (1.025 million, down 11%) had double-digit declines.

The quarter covered July through Sept. 29.

MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” continues to lead CNN in the early airwaves in both total viewers (398,000 vs. CNN’s 303,000) and 25-54 demo (133,000 vs. CNN’s 107,000). Despite its sluggish start, CNN’s latest morning program “New Day” — new CNN president Jeff Zucker’s pet project — is gaining momentum.  It outperfomed the network’s morning show from last year by 29% in total viewers (to 303,000) and 15% in adults 25-54 (to 107,000).

New Day” is among the new shows in the network shakeup, which includes another newcomer, “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” and the revived “Crossfire.”  The Jake Tapper-hosted afternoon newscast beat MSNBC with 535,000 viewers (up 8% from the year-ago timeslot). Meanwhile, early-evening program “Crossfire,” in its first few weeks on the air, is down, but both MSNBC and CNN declined by larger amounts in the time period vs. last year.

CNN’s “Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown” ranked No. 1 in its Saturday night slot. Its first episode of the second season, in Jerusalem, was the most popular to date (274,000). The Emmy-winning series was just renewed for a third season.