April 2011 Ratings: CNN Sees Significant Ratings Bump From Last Year

By Alex Weprin 

Viewers began to tune out of breaking news in April, and as a result CNN saw lower ratings than it drew earlier this year. However, CNN’s ratings were a significant improvement over April 2010, and the network received a bigger primetime ratings bump year-to-year than both MSNBC or Fox News Channel.

The ratings for April, 2011:

  • Primetime (Mon-Sun): 607K Total Viewers / 191K A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 452K Total Viewers / 154K A25-54

While CNN saw significant growth compared to last year, it still finished third in primetime in both total viewers and the key 25-54 demo. The channel placed second in total day in both categories.


The CNN program to see the most growth was 7 PM’s “John King USA,” which was up +23% in total viewers and +58% in the key adults 25-54 demo.

Among CNN’s primetime shows, 8 PM’s “In the Arena” grew +9% in total viewers and +30% in the demo, while 9 PM’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” was down -6% in total viewers, but up +20% in the demo. It was Morgan’s worst month yet ratings-wise, but he still improved over “Larry King Live” in the demo, which is where the ad sales bread is buttered.

“AC360” was up +4% in total viewers and and +35% in the demo at 10 PM, and +18% and +43% at 11 PM.

CNN’s April news release is below.


In the Arena is Up 30%, Piers Morgan Tonight Increases 20% and Anderson Cooper 360 Grows 35%; While FNC declines Each Hour in Primetime

John King, USA is Up 58%, The Situation Room Grows 44% in Demo

As the breaking news cycle cooled in April, CNN continued to post big gains and grew more than any other cable news network compared to a year ago – increasing an impressive +31% in M-F primetime (201k vs. 154k), +25% in total day (154k vs. 123k) and +33% during dayside (162k vs. 122k) in the key demo adults 25-54. Also in April, CNN topped MSNBC in total day (6a-6a) among both total viewers (452k vs. 429k) and in the key demo (154k vs. 147k); FNC was down -6% (272k vs. 288k) in the demo.

While CNN saw a +31% increase in M-F primetime in April, MSNBC was up only 7% (273k vs. 256k) and Fox News declined -10% (543k vs. 600k) compared to last year among 25-54. In addition, each CNN primetime (M-F) program also saw substantial double-digit demo gains vs. a year ago.

CNN’s In the Arena was the only program at 8 pm to gain viewers compared to April 2010 – increasing +30% (157k vs. 121k), MSNBC’s Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell was down -5% (258k vs. 272k) and FNC’s O’Reilly Factor was off -9% (701k vs. 774k) in the demo 25-54. Since In the Arena launched (February 28) the program is up +72% among 25-54 vs. 4th quarter (232k vs. 135k), while MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell is down -14% since his launch (January 24) vs. Olbermann’s 4th quarter average (248k vs. 288k).

In April, Piers Morgan Tonight continued to grow and increased more than the other cable news networks at 9 pm in the demo vs. year-ago programming – up +20% (189k vs. 157k), MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show was up 13% (315k vs. 279k) and FNC’s Hannity was down -3% (525k vs. 541k). In addition, compared to CNN’s 4th quarter average Piers Morgan launch-to-date is up +61% in the demo (274k vs. 170k) and +30% among total viewers (856k vs. 657k).

AC 360 also grew the most compared to the other cable news networks at 10 pm vs. last year – increasing +35% (244k vs. 181k), MSNBC’s The Ed Show/Docs grew 22% (247k vs. 203k) while Fox News’s On the Record dropped double digits, losing -14% of its key demo audience in April (413k vs. 480k).

At 7 pm, John King, USA was also up this month, increasing +58% in the demo 25-54 (172k vs. 109k) and +23% in total viewers (523k vs. 426k) vs. April 2010.

At 5 pm, CNN’s Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer increased +41% in the demo vs. last year (173k vs. 123k), and topped MSNBC’s Hardball (156k). The Situation Room also increased +24% in total viewers (630k vs.509k) vs. a year ago. FNC’s Glenn Beck continued to experience declines in April compared to a year ago – decreasing -25% in the key demo 25-54 (455k vs. 609k) and declined -12% in total viewers (1.906m vs. 2.171m). In addition, the Situation Room at 6 pm was up +44% in the demo (179k vs. 124k) and increased +16% in total viewers (570k vs. 490k).

In April, CNN Newsroom (9am to 5pm) bested MSNBC every hour in both total viewers and the key demo 25-54, posting gains from 14%-53% each hour in the demo. In head-to-head comparisons with MSNBC’s daytime non-opinion programming, CNN had a +54% advantage in total viewers (531k vs. 344k) and a +74% lead among adults 25-54 (162k vs. 93k). Specifically, at 1 pm CNN Newsroom was up +51% in the demo 25-54 and at 4 pm, the Brooke Baldwin led-hour increased +53%.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley on Sunday at 9 am also grew compared to a year ago, up +17% (152k vs. 130k) and at noon increased +25% (175k vs. 140k). Fareed Zakaria GPS at 10 am grew +21% (156k vs. 129k) and Reliable Sources was up +34% (173k vs. 129k) in the demo 25-54.

CNN reached a cumulative audience of 93.7 million viewers in April, FNC lagged behind with 78.1 million and MSNBC averaged 73.7 million.