The more breaking news, the better it is for CNN. And 2020 was a year chock full of seismic, breaking news events— a worldwide pandemic, protests against racial injustice, and a presidential election, just to name a few.
It should come as no surprise then that in 2020, CNN smashed its own ratings records and had its most successful and best ratings year in the network’s 40-year history.
CNN averaged more adults 25-54 than MSNBC for the full year, but averaged fewer total viewers than MSNBC and Fox News. CNN also averaged fewer adults 25-54 than Fox News for the full year.
The network averaged 1.8 million total viewers in prime time, 515,000 adults 25-54 in prime time, 1.1 million total viewers across the 24-hour day, and 310,000 adults 25-54 across the 24-hour in 2020.
CNN delivered more year-over-year audience growth than its cable news competition. The network traditionally thrives in election years, while performing not quite as well in non-election years. That trend certainly held up in 2020.
Compared to its final 2019 ratings, CNN was up +84% in total prime time viewers, +102% in the prime time demo (adults 25-54), +75% in total viewers across the 24-hour day, and +90% among adults 25-54 across the 24-hour day.
The fact that there’s a higher percentage of year-over-year growth among adults 25-54 than among total viewers makes sense considering younger viewers are more likely to tune into cable news during an election year than in an off year. The year 2020 was of course an election year, whereas 2019 was not.
Compared to the previous presidential election year (2016), CNN posted growth across the board. The amount of growth is better in total viewers than among adults 25-54, but that’s likely due to the fact that average age of the linear TV viewer has dramatically increased over the past 4 years, and cable news isn’t immune to that.
CNN was up +42% in total prime time viewers, and +22% among adults 25-54 in prime time; +51% in total viewers across the 24-hour day, and +34% among adults 25-54 across the 24-hour day.
The network also had a superb end to 2020. After the election was called on Nov. 7, CNN averaged a larger total audience than any other cable network across the 24-hour day for more than 6 weeks, and beat Fox News (and MSNBC) among adults 25-54 in Q4 for the first time since 2001.
Here are the final 2020 Nielsen live+same-day numbers:
- Prime Time (Mon-Sun): 1,784,000 Total Viewers / 515,000 A25-54
- Total Day (Mon-Sun): 1,135,000 Total Viewers / 310,000 A25-54
CNN was No. 1 in cable news among adults 25-54 every weekday hour from Noon-5 p.m. during 2020. Also this year, all of CNN prime time programs had their best years ever and surpassed MSNBC in the key 25-54 demo in the 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. hours (Anderson Cooper 360, and CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, respectively).
Additionally, The Lead with Jake Tapper ranked No. 1 in the 4 p.m. hour for the first time ever among adults 25-54.
Lastly, CNN was the No. 1 network during election week (Nov. 3 – Nov. 9), and more viewers tuned in to watch CNN during President-Elect Joe Biden’s first speech than any other network across broadcast and cable (8:30-9pm), ranking No. 1 among total viewers and adults 25-54.
Below, find CNN’s ratings release for 2020:
2020 is CNN’S BEST YEAR EVER
Most-Watched Year Ever in Total Viewers and Key Demo
All CNN Prime Time Programs and Dayparts Hit All-Time Highs
In Q4, CNN is #1 in All of Cable (not just news) in Total Day in Demo
In Q4, CNN Beats Fox in Adults 25-54 for First Time in 19 Years
Since Election Day, CNN is #1 in All of Cable (not just news) in Total Viewers;
Tops Fox and MSNBC for 41 Days
An extraordinary thing happened in cable news this year: CNN had its best year ever and ended the year as the most watched cable network for the final two months. CNN’s audience has been building significantly throughout the year, culminating with CNN emerging as the No. 1 cable news network since the election in both total viewers and the key sales target adults 25-54. What’s more, CNN has been #1 in total day demos for more than 41 consecutive days, the longest streak in 19 years (following 9/11). The shift began in March, when viewers flocked to CNN for the latest news and information and a desire for facts around Coronavirus, the first global pandemic in over 100 years. Throughout the year, the audience continued to come to CNN as the network covered the national political party conventions, Presidential Commission debates and ultimately the presidential election. In 2020, CNN smashed its own ratings records and had its most successful and best ratings year in the network’s 40-year history.
Below is ratings data Since the Election (41 days), 4Q-To-Date and End of Year ratings. Data will be updated after the holidays.
SINCE THE ELECTION
CNN ranks #1 cable news network following the election (Nov. 4 through 12/14) in both total viewers and the demo, ending Fox’s reign after 19 years. In Total Day, CNN has averaged 1.640 million total viewers, easily outperforming FNC’s 1.527 million and MSNBC’s 1.493 million. The last time CNN beat FOX in Total Day among total viewers for at least a month was 19 years year ago (December 2001). Among adults 25-54, CNN has been #1 for 41 straight days averaging 477k, the longest winning streak in 19 years, dating back to September 11, 2001. Fox trails with 286k and MSNBC follows with 263k in the key demo 25-54 since the election.
CNN is also currently ranked #1 in ALL of cable (not just news) during dayside among both total viewers (1.934 million) and the demo (544k). The last time CNN beat FNC during the day for at least a month in total viewers was October 2002.
Post-election, CNN is #1 in prime time in the all-important key sales demographic adults 25-54 with 766k, FNC follows with 545k and MSNBC lags with 443k. And since the election, CNN ranks #2 in total viewers outperforming MSNBC for the first time since November 2016 (2.475 million vs. 2.451 million).
Most recently, on Monday (12/14), during CNN’s Electoral College Voting coverage, the network trounced the competition in both total viewers and the demo adults 25-54. During the coverage block (9am-7pm), CNN averaged 2.418 million total viewers, MSNBC was second with 1.635 million and Fox was third with 1.582 million. Among adults 25-54, CNN also outperformed the competition with 546k, MSNBC had 229k and Fox trailed with 222k. And on that evening, during President-Elect Biden’s prime time speech, CNN was #1 with 3.356 million total viewers and 911k among adults 24-54, MSNBC followed with 3.082 million/537k and Fox lagged with 1.894 million/342k.
FOURTH QUARTER 2020
In Q4, CNN is #1 in All of Cable (not just news) in Total Day in Demo
In Q4, CNN Beats Fox in Adults 25-54 for First Time in 19 Years
Jake Tapper’s The Lead and State of the Union were #1 in the Demo during Q4
All of CNN’s Late Afternoon, Evening and Prime Time Programs Surpassed MSNBC in 25-54 this Quarter
CNN hit record ratings in the 4Q 2020, posting its highest Total Day, M-Su prime time, M-F prime time ratings EVER in both total viewers and adults 25-54. During the daytime, CNN had its highest total viewers on record and among 25-54, best on record since 4Q 2001.
CNN overtook Fox and MSNBC in the key demo adults 25-54 in 4Q in Total Day, dayside and on weekends.
CNN was not only #1 in cable news in Total Day and dayside in the demo this quarter, it was also #1 in All of cable television in the demo. This is the first time that CNN has been #1 in cable news in Total Day among adults 25-54 since 4Q 2001 and the first time CNN beat Fox in Total Day demo 25-54 for a full quarter since that time.
On weekends, CNN was #1 in Total Day in the demo (342k to FNC’s 240k to MSNBC’s 154k) and #2 in total viewers topping MSNBC (1.326 million vs. 894k). In weekend prime, CNN was the most watched among adults 25-54 with 509k, FNC followed with 377k and MSNBC had 196k. CNN outperformed MSNBC during prime time on the weekends (1.901 million to MSNBC’s 1.086 million).
CNN Newsroom was #1 in cable news on weekdays from 11am-4pm as was The Lead with Jake Tapper at 4pm in the demo 25-54 this quarter. The Lead, The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, Erin Burnett Outfront, Anderson Cooper 360, Cuomo Prime Time and CNN Tonight with Don Lemon all had their best ratings on record among total viewers and outperformed MSNBC in each hour during 4Q in the demo 25-54.
On Sundays, State of the Union with Jake Tapper was #1 in cable news in the demo at 9am and top-rated at noon in both total viewers and adults 25-54. Fareed Zakaria GPS was also #1 in total viewers and the demo at 1pm and CNN programming was top rated in both total viewers and 25-54 from 3pm-8pm. CNN was #1 in the demo from 12pm-5am.
All of CNN programs far surpassed FNC and MSNBC in ratings growth this quarter vs. 4Q 2019.
4Q data is from 9/28-12/13 2020
END OF YEAR 2020
2020 is CNN’s Most-Watched Year in History in Total Viewers and Demos
All CNN Prime Time Programs and Dayparts Hit All-Time Highs
CNN Beats MSNBC in Prime Time for the First Time since 2016 in Adults 25-54;
Also Outperforms MSNBC in Total Day and Dayside
CNN Posts Robust Ratings Growth vs. Last Year, Far More than MSNBC or FNC
CNN ends 2020 having its most watched and most successful year in the history of the network. In 40 years, CNN has never had bigger audiences than it did this year –including in Total Day and prime time in both in total viewers and the demo — breaking viewership records across the board. CNN also had its highest dayside ever in total viewers and second highest in dayside. CNN beat MSNBC in M-Su and M-F prime time for the first time since 2016 among adults 25-54. Also this year, all of CNN prime time programs had their best years ever and surpassed MSNBC in the demo 25-54 in the 8pm and 10pm hours. CNN was #1 in cable news every weekday hour from 12pm-5pm during 2020. CNN posted huge rating gains this year, growing high-double to triple digits vs. a year ago, far more than FNC or MSNBC. And, CNN’s digital platforms are also having record numbers, making CNN the most watched and most used news and information brand in the world.
CNN Original Series and CNN Films had banner ratings as well, ranking #1 or #2 in their time periods in either total viewers and/or adults 25-54 this year. CNN had the youngest audience in cable news in total day and prime time and reached the largest cumulative TV audience for a record-setting 19 years. The network will close out 2020 ranking #2 in ALL of cable (not just news) in total day and dayside in the demo and #3 in all of cable in Mon-Fri prime time in both total viewers and 25-54.
2020 Daypart Highlights:
CNN had its highest Total Day ratings ever in 2020 in both total viewers (1.140 million) and among adults (314k). For the seventh consecutive year, CNN beat MSNBC in Total Day in the demo (314k vs. 205k), while growing +90% vs last year. MSNBC and FNC were up far less, increasing only +33%/+46% respectively in the demo. CNN also had its best total viewer ratings on record with 1.140 million and growing +75%, while MSNBC was up only +27% and FNC increased +35% compared to last year.
CNN had its most-watched M-Su prime time ratings EVER in 2020 in both total viewers (1.817 million) and the demo 25-54 (528k). For the first time since 2016, CNN beat MSNBC in M-Su prime time (528k vs. 372k) among adults 25-54. CNN also had the most robust ratings growth in M-Su prime time vs. a year ago, increasing an impressive +102%, while MSNBC was only up +29% and FNC +64% in the demo and in total viewers, CNN was up +83% to MSNBC’s +23% to FNC’s +44%.
This year also marks CNN’s best M-F weekday prime time ratings in the history of the network in total viewers (1.987 million) and among adults 25-54 (589k). And, CNN also beat MSNBC in M-F prime (589k vs 460k) for the first time in four years (since 2016) in the key demo 25-54. All of CNN’s evening/prime time programs – Erin Burnett Outfront, Anderson Cooper 360, Cuomo Prime Time and CNN Tonight with Don Lemon — had their best ratings ever and surpassed MSNBC’s prime lineup in the demo adults 25-54 this year in the 7pm, 8pm and 10pm hours. Compared to 2019, CNN was up +92% in the demo and +72% in total viewers in weekday primetime, far surpassing MSNBC’S growth +25%+21%and FNC’s +62%/43% respectively.
CNN had its best dayside (9am-4pm) ratings on record this year in total viewers (1.288 million) and second highest among adults 25-54 (338k, behind 1995). CNN was #1 in cable news every hour from 12pm-5pm during 2020. For the year, CNN easily surpassed MSNBC in the demo 25-54 (338k vs. 201k), now for the 24th straight year. CNN had triple digit growth during dayside in 2020, increasing a staggering +101% among adults 25-54 and +73% in total viewers, while FNC was up far less +41%/+28% and MSNBC was up +48%/+28% respectively compared to last year.
During weekends in prime time, CNN was #1 in cable news in the key demo 25-54 in 2020 with 376k, FNC followed with 372k and MSNBC had 150k. CNN was up compared to last year, increasing +147%, FNC increased +75% and MSNBCs was up +67%. In total viewers, CNN topped MSNBC (1.392 million vs. 902k), growing +133% to FNC’s +53% to MSNBC’s +45%. In weekend total day, CNN (259k) outperformed FNC (258k) and MSNBC (125k) among adults 25-54, with CNN up +102% to FNC’s +51% to MSNBC’s +44%. In weekend total day among total viewers, CNN topped MSNBC (1.005 million vs. 750k); while growing the most vs. a year ago up +93%, FNC was up +42% and MSNBC +41%.
On Saturdays, CNN was #1 in cable news topping both FNC and MSNBC in total viewers from 12pm-8pm and from 2am-6am. On Sunday, the network was also top-rated from 2pm-5am. CNN topped MSNBC for 24 out of 24 hours on Saturdays and Sundays in the coveted key demo.
2020 News Program Highlights:
CNN’s weekday programming from 12 noon-4pm ranked #1 in cable news in 2020, topping both FNC and MSNBC in the demo adults 25-54. A team of CNN anchors led CNN Newsroom coverage throughout the year, during Coronravirus and the presidential election. The team included: Jim Acosta, Brooke Baldwin, Dana Bash, John Berman, Victor Blackwell, Wolf Blitzer, Kate Bolduan, Pam Brown, Ana Cabrera, Anderson Cooper, Jessica Dean, Bianna Golodryga, Poppy Harlow, Nia-Malika Henderson, Erica Hill, Brianna Keilar, John King, Alex Marquardt, Ryan Nobles, Christi Paul, Abby Phillip, Boris Sanchez, Martin Savidge, Jim Sciutto, Amara Walker, and Fredricka Whitfield have all anchored CNN Newsroom during weekday and/or weekend dayside coverage during 2020.
- New Day with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman (6-9am) had its highest total viewers on (662k ) on record in 2020 and highest viewership among adults 25-54 (164k) since 2018. New Day was up double digits compared to last year, increasing +30% in total viewers and +21% in the demo. Early Start with Christine Romans and Laura Jarrett (5-6am) ranked #2 in across cable news among adults 25-54 this year (101k vs. 75k), ahead of MSNBC by +35% and is the only program to grow it its time period vs. last year.
- The Lead with Jake Tapper (4pm) ranked #1 in cable news in 2020 for the first time ever among adults 25-54. The Lead averaged 370k among adults 25-54, FNC’s Your World with Neil Cavuto had 359k and MSNBC’s Deadline: The White House with Nicolle Wallace had 271k. The Tapper-led program had its highest total viewers on record (1.504 million) and best ratings in the demo ever (370k), The Lead also grew the most at 4pm, increasining+74% in total viewers and +94% in the demo vs. 2019.
- The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer had its highest ratings ever in both total viewers and among adults 25-54 at 5pm (1.590 million/398k) and at 6pm (1.492 million/413k). The Blitzer-led program also dominated MSNBC in 2020 at both 5pm (398k vs. 267k) and at 6pm (413k vs. 287k) in the demo 25-54. Sit Room has now outperformed MSNBC at 5pm for eight straight years and at 6pm for the seventh consecutive year. The program also grew significantly at 5pm vs. last year, increasing +74% in total viewers and 93% in the demo and at 6pm, was up +82%/+89% respectively.
- Erin Burnett Outfront (7pm) had its highest ratings delivery ever in both total viewers (1.588 million) and in the demo 25-54 (447k) in 2020. Outfront surpassed MSNBC in the key demo adults 25-54 (447k vs. 309k), now for the past seven consecutive years. (CNBC’s new program The News with Shepard Smith averaged 56k in the demo launch-to-date). The Burnett-led program had the highest growth in cable news in 2020 during the 7pm time period in total viewers (+78%) and adults 25-54 (+85%) vs. 2019.
- Anderson Cooper 360 (8pm) also had its best ratings ever, averaging 1.819 million total viewers and 498k in the demo adults 25-54. The Cooper-led program also beat MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes for seven of the past eight years in the key demo adults 25-54 (498k vs. 337k) in 2020. AC360 had the highest growth in cable news at 8pm among total viewers (+72%) and among adults 25-54 (+86%) compared to last year.
- Cuomo Prime Time (9pm) had its best total viewers (2.015 million) and adults 25-54 (540k) ratings delivery on record this year. Cuomo Prime Time was the network’s highest rated program in both total viewers and the demo adults 25-54 in 2020. The Cuomo-led show has the narrowest gap with MSNBC at 9pm (just -1%) since 2015. The program posted the most growth in cable news in all of prime time (8-11pm) this year, increasing +79% in total viewers and +88% in the demo vs. a year ago.
- CNN Tonight with Don Lemon (10pm) had its highest ratings ever in total viewers (1.635 million) and in the demo adults 25-54 (492k) in 2020. The Lemon-led program outperformed MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell for the first time since 2016 in the key demo adults 25-54 (492k vs. MSNBC’s 380k) this year. CNN Tonight had the highest growth in cable news during the 10pm time period among total viewers (+65%) and adults 25-54 (+80%) vs. last year. CNN Tonight with Don Lemon at 11pm ranked #2 in cable news, outperforming MSNBC’s The 11th Hour in the demo (380k vs. 354k) and posted the most growth across cable news at 11pm among total viewers (+63%) and the demo 25-54 (+80%).
Weekend Program Highlights:
- New Day Weekend with Christi Paul and Victor Blackwell ranked #2 in cable news in total viewers and/or adults 25-54 during its respective time period on Saturdays and Sundays in 2020, growing double-digits vs. a year ago.
- CNN Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield and CNN Newsroom with Ana Cabrera ranked either #1 or #2 in total viewers and/or the demo adults 25-54 during their respective time periods on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as growing double/triple digits vs. last year.
- Smerconish (Saturdays 9am) ranked #2 across cable news among both total viewers (1.022 million) and adults 25-54 (240k) and grew double digits in both demos (+35%/+43%) compared to 2019.
- The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer aired on weekends throughout 2020 and ranked either #1 or #2 in cable news on Saturdays/Sundays among adults 25-54.
- Inside Politics with John King (Sundays 8am) ranked #2 in cable news in both total viewers (859k) and in the key demo 25-54 (204k). In total viewers the King-leg program topped MSNBC (859k vs. 662k) and in the demo (203k vs. 102k). IP was also up the most in cable news during its time period, up +44% in total viewers and +45% in the demo compared to last year.
- State of the Union with Jake Tapper (Sundays) ranked #2 in cable news this year at 9am in both total viewers (1.137 million) and 25-54 (280k). The program grew the most in cable news during the 9am time period, increasing +55% in total viewers and +57% in the demo compared to a year ago. This is the Tapper-led highest SOTU on record among total viewers and second highest in the demo. The noon edition also ranked #2 in cable news in total viewers (1.265 million) the demo (273k) growing, +70% from a year ago in total viewers and +63% in the demo 25-54. MSNBC was a distant third at both 9am and noon.
- Fareed Zakaria GPS (Sundays) ranked #2 in cable news at 10am in total viewers (1.206m, up the most in cable news +51%) and among 25-54 (264k, up +54%). The Zakaria-led program was #2 at 1pm in total viewers (982k) and in the demo (199k), up +63%/+62% respectively compared to 2019. MSNBC was third.
- Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter (Sun., 11am) ranked #2 in cable news among total viewers (1.244 million) and 25-54 (284k) The Stelter-led media program was up +65% in total viewers and +68% in the demo vs. last year. MSNBC was a distant third at 11am on Sundays. Since taking over in 2013 as host, this is Stelter’s best yearly performance on record among total viewers and second best in the demo 25-54.
CNN Original Series:
- CNN’s award-winning Original Series This Is Life with Lisa Ling (Season 7) ranked #1 in cable news in its time period among adults 25-54 (249k) and #2 in total viewers (987k) this season. This is Life outperformed FNC by double digits and MSNBC by triple digits in adults 25-54. The six-part immersive docuseries follows journalist Lisa Long as she travels across America exploring communities that are often unknown or misunderstood, was up an impressive +29% in total viewers and +14% among 25-54 vs. season six.
- First Ladies (Season 1), a six-part docuseries about America’s most iconic first ladies, ranked #1 in cable news among adults 25-54 (350k) and total viewers (1.916 million) during its time period. First Ladies outperformed FNC by double digits among all demos and MSNBC by triple digits. The Robin Wright-narrated series was up +101% among 25-54 and +120% in total viewers, vs. the prior 4 to launch Sundays. First Ladies was the network’s second highest Original Series season average since 2016 in total viewers.
- United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell, the multiple Emmy Award-winning CNN Original Series was #1 in cable news in the key demo adults 25-54 (298k) and #2 in total viewers (1.069 million) across its time period during its fifth season. United Shades outperformed MSNBC by +33% in total viewers and was up prior 4 to launch +6% among adults 25-54. The eight-part series that follows sociopolitical comedian Bell as he explores communities across the country to understand the unique challenges they face, had the youngest median age across cable news in its time period.
- The Windsors: Inside the Royal Dynasty (Season 1) delivered 327k among adults 25-54 and 1.614 million in total viewers this season. In its time period, the series ranked #1 in adults 25-54 and total viewers. The Windsors outperformed MSNBC in the time period by triple digits among all key demos and outperformed FNC by double digits in total viewers. The series was up triple digits vs. the prior 4 Sunday time period average in total viewers. The Rosamund Pike-narrated docuseries was CNN’s third highest Original Series season average in total viewers since 2016.
- Race for the White House (Season 2) delivered 202k in the key demo and 795k in total viewers. The six-part CNN Original Series which tells the story of one campaign for the Presidency suing rare archival footage, interviews and stylized dramatizations ranked #2 in cable news among 25-54. The Mahershala Ali-narrated series was up vs. the prior 4 Sunday time period average in the demo 25-54 (+67%) and in total viewers (+76%).
- 2020-To Date, CNN’s First Ladies ranks #5 and The Windsors ranks #7 among the Top 10 non-fiction Historical series and among the Society & Culture series, United Shades of America ranks #5 in ALL of cable (not just news) among adults 25-54.
CNN Films and CNN Films Presents:
- CNN Films: President In Waiting (12/5/20, 9-10:58pm) premiered at #2 in cable news among adults 25-54 and total viewers. The film attracted 299k adults 25-54 and 1.372m total viewers, up triple digits vs. MSNBC in the time period among both adults 25-54 and total viewers.
- CNN Films: John Lewis: Good Trouble (9/27/20, 9-10:58pm) premiered at #2 in cable news among adults 25-54. The film averaged 185k among adults 25-54, up +13% vs. MSNBC in the time period, and 867k total viewers.
- CNN Films Presents: On The Trail: Inside the 2020 Primaries (9/5/20, 8-10pm) premiered at #2 in cable news among adults 25-54 averaging 143k among adults 25-54 and 672k total viewers.
- CNN Films Presents: After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News (8/29/20, 10pm-12am) premiered at #2 in cable news among adults 25-54 and total viewers. The film attracted 194k adults 25-54, up +76% compared to MSNBC in the time period. It averaged 807k total viewers, up +22% vs. MSNBC in the time period.
- CNN Films: Scandalous: The Untold Story of the National Enquirer (5/17/20, 10pm-12am) premiered at #1 in cable news among adults 25-54 and total viewers. In the key demographic adults 25-54, the film attracted 223k, +182% more than MSNBC’s 79k and +21% more than FNC’s 185k. In total viewers, Scandalous averaged 1.201 million total viewers, +12% more than FNC and +141% ahead of MSNBC in the time period.
- CNN Films: Linda Ronstadt, The Sound of My Voice, debuted at #1 in cable news in both total viewers and among adults 25-54 (January 1, 9-10:55pm). In total viewers, Linda Ronstadt, The Sound of My Voice averaged 2.428 million, +50% more than Fox’s 1.616 million and a +283% lead over MSNBC’s 634k. This was CNN Films’ third-highest rated film in total viewers (following Glen Campbell I’ll Be Me and Three Identical Strangers). In the key demographic adults 25-54, the film attracted 381k, +143% more than MSNBC’s 157k and +64% more than Fox’s 232k.
CNN Special Programming:
CNN had many hours of substantive long form and special programming in 2020, ranking #1 or #2 in cable news:
- CNN’s 23 Global Coronavirus Town Halls, airing over the course of the year, starting on 3/5/20 and the latest one on 12/4/20, averaged 562k among 25-54, ranking #2 among cable news in its time period. The Town Hall average was ahead by double digits (+48%) vs. MSNBC in the time period among adults 25-54. Among total viewers, the town halls attracted an average of 1.926 million.
- CNN Special Reports (including Fareed Zakaria’s Reports), the network’s in-house documentary unit focusing on in-depth and investigative reporting of major issues and events, aired nearly 20 Special Reports on a vast array of topics ranging from the history of impeachment, America’s climate crisis, the Coronavirus pandemic, women’s suffrage, the electoral college and the royal family. CNN’s Special Reports averaged 298k across all reports in the demo adults 25-54, ranking #2 in cable news for the year in their respective time periods.
- In 2020, CNN televised 21 Presidential Candidate Town Halls, the most in cable news by far. CNN’s Town Halls provided voters an opportunity to ask candidates substantive questions and viewers the chance to hear the candidates’ positions directly from him/her.
- CNN also aired two documentaries on the presidential candidates including Fight for the White House: Joe Biden’s Long Journey hosted by Gloria Borger and Fight for the White House: Donald Trump’s Presidency hosted by Jake Tapper. Both aired throughout the fall and ranked #1 or #2 in cable news.
- On Saturday mornings, CNN and Sesame Street joined together to air 4 special Town Halls, The ABC’s of COVID-19 (airing 4/25 & 6/13), Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism (6/6) and The ABC’s of Back to School (9/12). The Town Halls, which provided information about the coronavirus pandemic and helped kids and families discuss racism and the nationwide protests, averaged 261k among the key demo adults 25-54 and 821k total viewers.
- On 4/18, CNN‘s first edition of The Color of Covid hosted by Don Lemon and political commentator Van Jones, averaged 347k in demo adults 25-54 and 1.197 million in total viewers and ranked #2 among both the demo and total viewers. On 5/15, CNN’s second edition of The Color of Covid hosted again by Don Lemon and Van Jones ranked #2 in the demo adults 25-54 (345k), far ahead of MSNBC in the time period by +68%.
- On 5/16, CNN’s special Class of 2020: In This Together ranked #1 in the demo adults 25-54 (319k), ahead of FXNC and MSNBC by double digits (+19%/+99%) for the time period. The special graduation program included congratulations from Former President Barack Obama and appearances from celebrities such as Lebron James, Zendaya, Kevin Hart, Amy Schumer as well as musical performances by Ben Platt, The Jonas Brothers, and Dua Lipa.
- On 5/31 CNN’s special I Can’t Breathe: Black Men Living and Dying in America anchored by Don Lemon ranked #1 in the demo adults 25-54 with 1.164 million. Earlier that morning, Jake Tapper hosted a special tribute We Remember: A National Memorial Honoring the Victims of Covid-19 to honor those lives lost to the coronavirus pandemic.
- On 6/7, CNN’s special Unconscious Bias: Facing the Realities of Racism hosted by Fredricka Whitfield ranked #1 in cable news among adults 25-54 (398k). On 7/26, the second installment of the program delivered 209k in the demo and 767k total viewers and ranked #1 across cable news in its time period among adults 25-54.
- On 6/20, CNN Business innovation reporter Rachel Crane hosted Risk Takers and it ranked #1 among cable news in time period (324k), ahead of both FXNC and MSNBC by double digits (+23%/+68%).
- On July 4th, CNN aired its inaugural The 4thAcross America anchored by Dana Bash and Don Lemon which drew 331k among 25-54 and 1.682m total viewers and ranked #2 across cable news and was ahead of MSNBC in the 8pm-12am time period by triple digits in both demos.
- On 7/11, CNN Presents: Michael Smerconish: Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Talking drew 173k among adults 25-54 and 743k among total viewers. The program ranked #2 in cable news among in the key demo 25-54.
- On 10/18, CNN’s The Insiders: A Warning from Former Trump Officials hosted by Jake Tapper ranked #2 in the demo adults 25-54 (315k), far ahead of MSNBC in the time period by +179%.
And recently, one of the most inspirational programs of the year, CNN Heroes: An All Star Tribute aired on Sunday, 12/13 (8pm-10pm) and attracted 174k among the 25-54 demo and 944k among total viewers. The special ranked #2 for the demo adults 25-54 and total viewers. It was the highest rated Heroes program since 2017 among both total viewers and the demo.
2020 Politics Programming Highlights:
On Election Day (11/3/20):
- Across All of TV, CNN’s Election Night in America coverage (8-11pm) ranked #2 among both 25-54 and total viewers and #1 among younger viewers (18-34) CNN registered the youngest audience in cable news and among the 3 major broadcast nets (ABC, CBS, and NBC) on Election Night in Prime 8-11pm.
On Election Day 5 – Biden Projected Winner (11/7/20):
- Across All of TV, CNN’s coverage of 2020 Election: Day 5 (prime time 8-11pm) ranked #1 among total viewers, adults 25-54 and 18-34. More viewers tuned in to watch CNN during President-Elect Joe Biden’s first speech than any other network across broadcast and cable (8:30-9pm), ranking #1 among total viewers, adults 25-54 and 18-34. In All of cable, CNN ranked #1 in Total Day and prime time and during the full coverage block (7pm-3am) among total viewers, adults 25-54 and 18-34. Day 5 was CNN’s 4th most watched day on record among total viewers (4.479m) and 13th best day among 25-54. CNN registered the youngest audience in cable news and among the 3 major broadcast nets (ABC, CBS, and NBC) in prime time on Day 5.
Election Week (11/3 –11/9):
- CNN was #1 in prime time among both total viewers and 25-54 in all of cable news and beat the big three broadcast nets for election coverage; ABC, CBS and NBC. In Total Day, CNN outperformed Fox and MSNBC in both total viewers and adults 25-54.
Election 2020 Leadup Events:
- Across the RNC and DNC conventions, CNN topped all the broadcast networks — NBC, ABC and CBS — in total viewers and among adults 25-54 during the 2020 political convention cycle. CNN also surpassed MSNBC among adults 25-54 in the roll up of both conventions during the common coverage block hour (10-11pm). Additionally, CNN’s coverage of the Presidential Debates ranked #2 in cable news across all debates among both total viewers and the demo adults 25-54 and reached nearly 18 million viewers over the three nights.
Median Age, Cross Platform and Reach:
CNN continues to have the youngest audience in cable news in total day and prime. This year, CNN had its lowest median age in Total Day and M-Su Prime since September 2017. Across platforms, CNN reaches more total people in the U.S. than any other news brand across TV and digital. CNN reaches the largest average monthly cumulative TV audience (among both total viewers and adults 25-54) of any cable news network 2020-to-date, making this the 19th consecutive year on record for the network.
- CNN Digital viewing added a 2.2% lift (or average monthly 25k) to CNN’s P2+ 1.140 million total day TV audience for a total of 1.165 million across platforms this year. This is the highest year on record for digital average audience and multiplatform average audience.
Out of Home Lift:
- 2020-to-date (through 12/6/20), CNN is averaging a +5% lift (or +50k) among total viewers and a +7% lift (or +20k) among adults 25-54 OOH viewers for a total of 1.170 million and 327k, combined in-home and OOH total viewers and adults 25-54 respectively.
2020 data is from 9/28-12/13 2020. Two weeks remain until Nielsen’s year end on 12/27/20. Data will be updated after the holidays.
Be well, be safe and happy holidays to you and your friends and families! #FactsFirst