August 2011 Ratings: CNN Posts Double-Digit Gains Across the Board

By Merrill Knox Comment

It was the opposite of a slow August for CNN. This month’s big stories — the fall of Tripoli, the Virginia earthquake and Hurricane Irene — were big ratings draws for the network, propelling CNN to significant year-over-year growth and a second-place finish among the cable news networks, behind only Fox News Channel.

The ratings for August, 2011:

  • Primetime (Mon-Sun): 723K Total Viewers / 242K A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 539K Total Viewers / 189K A25-54

Compared to last year, CNN is up+42% in total viewers and +63% in the A25-54 demographic. In primetime, the network posted gains of +49% in total viewers and +68% in A25-54 viewers.

CNN shuffled the primetime lineup this month, moving the live broadcast of “Anderson Cooper 360” from 10 p.m. to 8 p.m.ET. Since August 8 — Cooper’s first night in the earlier timeslot — the broadcast has posted a +44% gain in the A25-54 demographic. (It should be noted that Cooper’s closest competition at 8 p.m., MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, has been out for a good portion of August.) The 10 p.m. rebroadcast of “AC360” posted the highest gains in its timeslot year-over-year, growing +34% in total viewers and +55% in A25-54 viewers.

“Piers Morgan Tonight” also continues to perform for CNN, growing+37% in total viewers and +52% in the demographic year-over-year.

CNN’s press release is below:




In August, CNN continued to post significant year-over-year ratings gains, growing more than any cable news network, increasing +55% in M-F primetime (232k vs. 150k). In addition, CNN tied for second with MSNBC in M-F primetime among P25-54 (232k vs. 232k).

CNN outperformed MSNBC in total day (6a-6a) among both total viewers (540k vs. 429k) and in the key demo 25-54 (189k vs. 143k). CNN grew the most in other key dayparts as well, increasing +63% in total day (189k vs. 116k) and +48% during the daytime in the key demo (173k vs. 117k) compared to last year.

Since AC 360 launched on August 8 at 8 pm, the program has delivered 219k in the key demo 25-54, a +74% increase over year ago programming (126k), a +44% increase vs. last month’s 152k and a 30% increase vs. CNN’s 8pm programming during the second quarter (168k).  (For the month, CNN topped MSNBC in the key demo at 8 pm and in the key demo and total viewers at 10 pm – see below).

On Sunday, August 28 during Hurricane Irene coverage from 6a-Noon CNN easily topped FNC and MSNBC in the demo with CNN averaging 650k, FNC followed with 583k and MSNBC had 201k.  From 9a-5p on Sunday, CNN averaged 577k, FNC had 510k and MSNBC posted 184k. Meanwhile in primetime, CNN also outperformed the cable news competition with 343k, FNC averaged 256k and MSNBC’s 218k.  On Saturday from 9a-5p CNN also topped the competition among the key demo adults 25-54 averaging 647k, FNC had 564k and MSNBC posted 210k.

While CNN saw a +55% increase in overall M-F primetime vs. a year ago (232k vs. 150k), MSNBC was flat (232k vs. 233), and FNC grew 7% (578k vs. 541k).  CNN’s signature programs surged with double-digit gains in both the key demo 25-54 and in total viewers in August.

  • CNN’s AC 360 at 8 pm topped MSNBC in the key demo (219k vs. 199k) in August.  The show also increased an impressive +74% in P25-54 vs. a year ago – 219k vs. 126k; MSNBC decreased -25% (199k vs. 265k) and FNC’s O’Reilly Factor was up +5% (679k vs. 644k). In total viewers, AC 360 was up +47% (662k vs. 451k); MSNBC was down -15% (817k vs. 964k) and FNC increased +7% (2.910m vs. 2.719m) compared to last year.

  • At 9 pm, Piers Morgan Tonight increased +52% in the key demo (227k vs. 149k) compared to a year ago – while MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show was up less than half that recorded by CNN, up +21% (279k vs. 230k) and Hannity was down -3% (532k vs. 549k).  Among total viewers Piers Morgan Tonight increased +37 (750k vs. 547k), MSNBC was up +12% (925k vs. 829k) and FNC was down -1% (2.088m vs. 2.116m) vs. a year ago. 

  • At 10 pm, AC 360 topped MSNBC’s The Ed Show/Docs by +21% in the key demo (267k vs. 220k) and in total viewers (750k vs. 731k) in August. CNN had strong ratings gains at 10pm, increasing 55% in the key demo (267k vs. 172k) and 34% in total viewers (750k vs. 560k) vs. a year ago.  MSNBC’s The Ed Show/Docs was up only +8% (220k vs. 204k), while FNC remained relatively flat, +1% (457k vs. 452k) compared to a year ago.  In total viewers vs. a year ago, AC 360 was up +34% (750k vs. 560k), while MSNBC grew +37% (731k vs. 534k) and FNC increased just +2% (1.821m vs. 1.780m).

  • John King USA at 7 pm was up more than MSNBC and FNC in August, increasing +67% in the demo 25-54 (174k vs. 104k) and grew +46% among total viewers (531k vs. 364k).

  • At 5 pm, The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer increased +37% in the demo (173k vs. 126k) and +34% among total viewers (711k vs. 532k) compared to last year.  CNN also topped MSNBC’s Hardball in both demographics.

  • At 6 pm, Sit Room was up +54% in the demo (179k vs. 116k) and up +41% in total viewers (615k vs. 437k) vs. a year ago.  The Situation Room also topped MSNBC Live at 6 pm in the demo (179k vs. 161k).

  • In August, CNN Newsroom (9a-5p) bested MSNBC’s programming during the day time (9a-5p) in total viewers (587k vs. 371k) and in the key demo (173k vs. 101k).  This represents a 58% advantage over MSNBC in total viewers and a 71% lead in the demo.

CNN reached a cumulative audience of 100.6 million viewers in August, FNC followed with 87.4 million and MSNBC trailed with 80.1 million.