2013 Ratings: MSNBC Stays in Second in Primetime, Falls to Third in Total Day

By Jordan Chariton 

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Coming off a banner presidential elections ratings year, MSNBC remained second in primetime but fell to third place in total day, losing to CNN for the first time in two years. Like its competitors, MSNBC had year-over-year declines, posting its lowest primetime delivery since 2007 in both total viewers and the demo.

The ratings for 2013 (Nielsen Live + Same Day data):

  • Primetime (Mon-Sun): 640,000 Total Viewers / 203,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 394,000 Total Viewers / 131,000 A25-54

Compared to 2012, MSNBC was down -21% in total day in both total and demo viewers. In primetime, the network was down -29% in both total viewers and demo viewers.  With the exception of HLN, all the cable news networks are down compared to 2012, which was a Presidential election year.

All three primetime shows were down compared to 2012. “All In with Chris Hayes,” which debuted in April, was down -37% in total viewers and -32% in the A25-54 demo, delivering the 8pmET hour’s lowest numbers since 2005. (It should be noted that Ed Schultz held the timeslot in 2012 and for the first three months of 2013.) “The Rachel Maddow Show,” which remained MSNBC’s top program this year, was down -24% in total viewers and -29% in the demo, and “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” was down -30% and -35%, respectively.

Since its move to a single 7pmET airing in August, “Hardball with Chris Matthews” saw a jump of +31% in the A25-54 demo.

MSNBC’s press release, after the jump…

MSNBC Ranked #2 in Key Morning and Primetime Time Periods for the Year
NEW YORK – December 26, 2013 – MSNBC will end 2013 beating CNN in the key morning and primetime time periods for the year among both total viewers and A25-54, according to data from Nielsen.
MSNBC weekday primetime (M-F 8p.m-11p.m.) ranked #2 for the year among A25-54 (203,000 vs. CNN’s 196,000) and total viewers (739,000 vs. CNN’s 614,000). This is the fifth consecutive year MSNBC has topped CNN in weekday primetime among A25-54 and the fourth straight year among total viewers.
MSNBC M-Su sales primetime (7p-2a) was #2 for the year with total viewers (525,000 vs. CNN’s 460,000) and A25-54 (184,000 vs. CNN’s 158,000). MSNBC ranked #1 in the younger demo of A18-34 for the year.
Below are MSNBC program and time period highlights for 2013 (numbers through Dec. 22):
• “Morning Joe” (M-F 6-9a.m.) ranked #2 for the year topping CNN in total viewers (408,000 vs. CNN’s 296,000) and in A25-54 (135,000 vs. CNN’s 110,000). This is the third consecutive year “Morning Joe” has ranked #2 in A25-54 and fourth consecutive year in total viewers. “Fox and Friends” on FNC had their lowest rated year in A25-54 since 2001. The CNN totals include both “Early Start”/”Starting Point” (which ended 6/14/13) and for “New Day” (which began 6/17/13). “New Day’s” A25-54 rating (99,000) was -19% lower than prior CNN entry.
• MSNBC at 5 p.m. with “Hardball” and “The Ed Show” ranked #2 in total viewers for the third consecutive year (688,000 vs. CNN’s 600,000).
• At 6 p.m., “PoliticsNation” with Rev. Al Sharpton ranked #2 in the time period, beating CNN in both total viewers (653,000 vs. CNN’s 506,000) and A25-54 (160,000 vs. CNN’s 158,000). 2013 is the fourth consecutive year “PoliticsNation” has topped CNN in total viewers.
• “Hardball with Chris Matthews” at 7 p.m. ranked #2 for the fourth consecutive year in both total viewers (721,000 vs. CNN’s 517,000) and A25-54 (180,000 vs. CNN’s 167,000). “Hardball” has gained +31% in A25-54 since the program went to a single first run show at 7 p.m.
• MSNBC at 8 p.m. with “The Ed Show” and “All In” with Chris Hayes finished the year at #2 among total viewers with 695,000 vs. CNN’s 660,000 – the 7thconsecutive win over CNN.
• “The Rachel Maddow Show” at 9 p.m. topped CNN in all categories for the 4thconsecutive year including total viewers (861,000 vs. 627,000) and A25-54 (240,000 vs. 186,000).
• “The Last Word” with Lawrence O’Donnell (M-Th) at 10 p.m. beat CNN among total viewers in 2013 (731,000 vs. 556,000) for the 4thconsecutive year. This was CNN’s worst performance in the time period in over 16 years.
• “Weekends with Alex Witt” on Saturdays at 7 a.m. ranked #1 among A18-34, for the third consecutive year.
• “Up w/Steve Kornacki” on Sundays (8-10 a.m.) was #1 among younger viewers A18-34. MSNBC has been #1 in this time slot for three consecutive years.
• “Melissa Harris-Perry” on Sundays (10 a.m. – noon) ranked #1 among younger views A18-34 for the second consecutive year.
• MSNBC Live on Sundays at 3 p.m. was #1 with younger viewers A18-34 in 2013.
• Weekend Longform (Sa/Su 7p-2a) ranked #1 for the fourth year in a row.
• MSNBC is the most diverse cable news channel. In M-Su 6a-2a, 30% of MSNBC’s A25-54 audience is African-American and 7% is Hispanic for the year.
• 2013 is the fourth consecutive year MSNBC primetime is #1 among cable news nets among African-American viewers with both A25-54 and Total viewers.