May 2017 Ratings: CNN is Delivering Younger News Viewers Across a 24-Hour Day

By A.J. Katz Comment

CNN stood out this month for its ability to deliver younger news viewers across an entire 24-hour day. With an average of 274,000 adults 25-54 from 6 a.m. – 6 a.m., (versus MSNBC’s 221,000 A25-54 average) CNN has now defeated MSNBC for 35 consecutive months across total day.

CNN posted +26 percent growth in total Monday – Sunday prime time viewers and +39 percent growth in the prime time demo relative to May 2016. The year-over-year audience growth was strong across total day as well, +41 percent in total viewers and +58 percent in the demo.

Despite solid year-over-year growth, CNN couldn’t quite keep up with its cable news rivals in the key categories during prime time hours.

The numbers for May 2017 (Nielsen Live+Same Day Data):

  • Primetime (Mon-Sun):  1,120,000 Total Viewers / 399,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 821,000 Total Viewers / 274,000 A25-54

Erin Burnett Outfront was the No. 1 cable news program in the 7 p.m. hour among adults 25-54, beating Hardball with Chris Matthews as well as Fox News’ The Story with Martha MacCallum. Burnett’s program posted the most year-over-year audience growth on the network, increasing +101 percent in the demo and +75 percent in total viewers.

The Lead with Jake Tapper was the No. 1 cable news program in the 4 p.m. hour among adults 25-54, defeating both Neil Cavuto and MSNBC in the category.

CNN’s morning show New Day ranked No. 3 in total viewers, but No. 2 in the news demo in May. New Day beat Morning Joe in the demo by 1,000 viewers (255,000 vs. 254,000). That demo delivery is a monthly record for the program.

Here’s CNN’s release:

CNN TOPS MSNBC IN TOTAL DAY, DAYSIDE IN MAY

CNN WEEKDAY PRIME TIME WAY UP, +48% VS. LAST YEAR

Anderson Cooper 360 Beats MSNBC; Grows +92%
CNN Tonight with Don Lemon Grows +90%

Erin Burnett Outfront #1
The Lead with Jake Tapper #1
Early Start #1
State of the Union with Jake Tapper #1
Fareed Zakaria GPS #1
Smerconish #1

New Day Grows the Most in Cable News in the Morning, Up +101%

CNN Ranks Top 10 in ALL of Cable for Fourth Straight Month; Longest Streak in over 21 Years

CNN once again dominated MSNBC in Total Day and daytime, and several key programs ranked #1, topping both Fox News and MSNBC this month. CNN outperformed MSNBC in Total Day for 35 straight months in the key demographic 25-54 (275k vs. 222k), the longest monthly streak since January 2010. CNN also beat MSNBC by wide margins throughout daytime programming, averaging a +54% advantage in the key demo (254k vs. 165k). The network also beat MSNBC during the day among total viewers (881k vs. 853k). CNN has now topped MSNBC during the daytime for 39 straight months among 25-54 and for 55 consecutive months in total viewers.

CNN showed tremendous growth this month throughout all dayparts and programs vs. last year. During weekday prime time, CNN grew +48% among adults 25-54 (456k vs. 308k) and +32% in total viewers (1.273 million vs. 963k). In M-F prime, CNN is posting the second largest growth in ALL of cable among adults 25-54. All of CNN prime time programs were way up this month, with Anderson Cooper 360 increasing +92%, CNN programming at 9pm (Cooper) up +63% and CNN Tonight with Don Lemon (10pm) growing +90% among adults 25-54. This month, AC 360 beat MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes and Erin Burnett Outfront ranked #1 beating both Fox News and MSNBC’s Hardball in the demo.

CNN narrowed the gap with Fox News to its third smallest since October 2008 in Total Day and second smallest since January 2009 in prime time among adults 25-54. Fox News’ new programming lineup struggled this month, losing total viewers compared to last year. The Fox News Specialists (5pm) is down -9%; Tucker Carlson Tonight (8pm) decreased -7% and The Five (9pm) is off -2% vs. a year ago. Both CNN and MSNBC grew in the high double digits or increased triple digits during these time periods.

Among ALL cable networks, CNN was #6 in total day and #10 in prime time among total viewers this month. This marks the fourth straight month that CNN ranked as a Top 10 cable network in total day among total viewers, the longest streak in over 21 years.

Of note, both MSNBC and Fox News’ audience skews much older than CNN’s as shown by the number of total viewers they attract vs. the key demographic adults 25-54. Year-to-date, CNN’s median age in Total Day is 60 years, Fox News and MSNBC are both 65. In prime time, CNN is 59 years, MSNBC is 64 years and Fox News has the oldest skewing audience at 66 years. CNN is tracking at its youngest yearly median age since 2008 in Total Day, while MSNBC is at its oldest on record.

May Program Highlights and Growth:

Morning/Dayside
• Early Start with Christine Romans and Dave Briggs (4-6am) ranked #1 in the demo, beating both Fox News and MSNBC across cable news in the demo and grew +86% among adults 25-54 and +53% in total viewers vs. a year ago. Fox News ranked #2, MSNBC was fourth.
• New Day with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota (6-9am) ranked #2 and grew the most in cable news in the morning in May among adults 25-54. The program was up an impressive +101% in the key demo (255k vs. 127k vs. last year) and +58% in total viewers (683k vs. 431k). This is New Day’s highest monthly performance on record among adults 25-54 (255k) and highest delivery in the time period since November 2008. Among total viewers, this is New Day’s 2nd highest delivery on record (683k).
• CNN dayside (9a-4p) all seven hours of CNN dayside programming beat MSNBC in May in the key 25-54 demo. Throughout the day, CNN had a +54% advantage over MSNBC among adults 25-54 (254 vs. 165k) and a +3% lead in total viewers (881k vs. 853k). CNN dayside programming also grew double digits from last year, up +76% in the adults 25-54 demo and +49% among total viewers. CNN has now topped MSNBC for 39 straight months in adults 25-54 and for 55 consecutive months in total viewers.

Late Afternoons
• The Lead with Jake Tapper (4pm) was #1 in cable news this month in the all-important demo 25-54. The Tapper-led program attracted 304k adults 25-54, Fox News followed with 293k and MSNBC lagged with 186k. The Lead ranked #2 in total viewers, easily topping MSNBC (1.091m vs. 963k). The show grew an impressive +76% in the key demo 25-54 and +51% among total viewers. MSNBC ranked a distant third in both demos.
• The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer (5p-7p) was a strong #2 in cable news in May easily topping MSNBC in the demo (358k vs. 205k) and total viewers (1.172m vs.1.103m). The Blitzer-led program increased +75% in the demo and +56% in total viewers vs. last year. During the 6pm hour, Sit Room delivered its 2nd highest delivery among both 25-54 and total viewers since January 2009. In the demo, CNN (394k) narrowed the gap with Fox News (400k) at 6pm to its smallest (-2%) since November 2008.

Evening/Prime Time
• CNN beat MSNBC during the M-F evening/prime time hours at 7pm, 8pm in the key demo 25-54 for the 35th straight month.
• Erin Burnett Outfront (7pm) ranked #1 in cable news at 7pm in May with 438k, Fox News The Story followed with 398k, and MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews was third with 385k among adults 25-54. This is EBOF’s second best performance on record, and CNN’s second highest monthly 25-54 delivery since September 2005 at 7pm. The Burnett-led program had the most growth on the network, increasing +101% in the demo 25-54 and +75% in total viewers.
• Anderson Cooper 360 (8pm) ranked #2 in cable news this month, easily beating MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes in the key demo adults 25-54 (479k vs. 445k). AC 360 was the highest-rated show on CNN in prime time, averaging 1.367 million total viewers. The Cooper-led program grew +92% among adults 25-54 and +60% in total viewers compared to last year. CNN has now topped MSNBC in the demo for the 35th consecutive month at 8pm, the longest streak since January 2006.
• CNN programming at 9p (Cooper this month) delivered 451k among adults 25-54, up +63% and 1.263m in total viewers, up +47% from last year.
• CNN Tonight with Don Lemon (10pm) posted significant growth this month, averaging 440k among 25-54, increasing +90% and attracted 1.191 million total viewers, up +69% from a year ago.

Saturdays
• New Day Saturday (6-9am) ranked #2 in cable news among adults 25-54 and total viewers. The show also grew double digits each hour in both the demo and total viewers vs. a year ago. MSNBC was either 3rd or 4th.
• Smerconish (9am) easily topped MSNBC in both the demo (296k vs. 163k) and total viewers (910k vs. 722k) this month. The program had the most growth in cable news at 9am — increasing +79% in the key demo adults 25-54. At 6pm, Smerconish was #1 in the demo with 191k, Fox News followed with 169k and MSNBC trailed with 133k. The program also grew at 6pm, increasing +19% in 25-54. In total viewers, the 9am edition was up +35% and at 6pm, +18% vs. last year.
• CNN Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield (11am-3:00pm) ranked either #1 or #2 each hour in the demo, growing double digits vs. a year ago. MSNBC was 3rd.
• CNN Newsroom with Ana Cabrera (3-6pm) ranked #1 in cable news each hour among adults 25-54, growing double digits compared to May 2016. MSNBC was third. The Cabrera-led Newsroom ranked #2 in cable news in total viewers.

Sundays
• Inside Politics with John King (8am) ranked #2 in both adults 25-54 (263k) and total viewers (880k). MSNBC ranked 3rd. The King-led discussion program grew +54% among adults 25-54 and +38% in total viewers from last year.
• State of the Union with Jake Tapper (9am) ranked #2 in cable news in both adults 25-54 (314k) and total viewers (983k). The program grew +62% in the demo 25-54 and +41% in total viewers compared to last year. The noon edition ranked #1 in cable news in the demo with 313k, Fox News followed with 261k and MSNBC lagged with 200k. The program ranked #2 in total viewers with 1.055 million. At noon the program grew +58%/+32% vs. a year ago.
• Fareed Zakaria GPS beat MSNBC at 10am in the key demo 25-54 (311k vs. 214k) and in total viewers (1.128m vs. 792k), ranking #2 in cable news. The Zakaria-led show was up +42% in the demo and +37% in total viewers compared to May 2016. At 1pm, GPS was #1 in cable news among adults 25-54 (254k, up +48%) and #2 in total viewers (903k, +27%). MSNBC ranked third at both 10am and 1pm in both demos.
• Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter (11am) averaged 296k in adults 25-54 and 1.028k among total viewers, ranking #2 and easily topping MSNBC in both demos. Compared to last year, the media program was up +53% in the demo and +43% in total viewers.
• CNN Newsroom on Sunday afternoons ranked either #1 or #2 in the demo, growing double digits vs. last year.

Original Series Highlights:

• Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Season 9-to-date (4/30-5/21/17): is tracking at its highest season performance ever among both 25-54 and total viewers. Ranks #1 in the key demo 25-54 across cable news in its time period, outperforming the combined delivery of Fox News and MSNBC. Every episode this season-to-date has ranked #1 among 25-54 across cable news in the hour.
• United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell Season 2-to-date (4/30-5/21/17): Pacing above its Season 1 average by double-digit percentages among both 25-54 and total viewers. Ranks #1 in the demo 25-54 across cable news in its time period, outperforming the combined delivery of Fox News and MSNBC. Every episode this season-to-date has ranked #1 among 25-54 across cable news in the hour.

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