April 2020 Ratings: CNN Averages Its Largest Adults 25-54 Audience in Total Day Since 2005

By A.J. Katz Comment

The headline says it all: CNN is going to complete its most-watched month among adults 25-54 in nearly 15 years.

CNN’s April 2020 ratings, highest in the demo since the month of Hurricane Katrina (September 2005), were driven by wall-to-wall coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic, to go with live coverage of the White House coronavirus task force briefings each day.

In addition to averaging its largest total day A25-54 audience since September 2005, CNN averaged more total day viewers than MSNBC for the first time in three years, and also beat MSNBC in the key A25-54 demo.

According to the network, during the dayside daypart (9 a.m.-4 p.m. ET), CNN ranked No. 1 for the first time since January 2009 among adults 25-54.

That said, the network continued to lag behind Fox News in prime time, both in Total Viewers and among Adults 25-54. It finished No. 2 in total day (6 a.m.-6 a.m.) in the key categories.

Compared to the same month one year ago, a month without wall-to-wall coverage of Covid-19 and daily briefings to broadcast, CNN was a whopping +154% in total prime-time viewers, +150% in total day viewers, +193% in the prime-time demo and +184% in the total day demo.

Perhaps more importantly, CNN grew from its March 2020 performance: +1% growth in total prime-time viewers, +14% growth in total day viewers, +8% in the total day demo, but -6% in the prime-time demo versus March 2020.

CNN is a destination for breaking news events, and the network delivers far larger audiences during these periods than during “quieter” times. April 2020 and the Covid-19 era appears to be no different.

The average Nielsen live + same day impressions for April 2020:

  • Prime time (Mon-Sun): 1,948,000 total viewers / 580,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 1,360,000 total viewers / 395,000 A25-54

Brooke Baldwin, Victor Blackwell, Kate Bolduan, Ana Cabrera, Anderson Cooper, Poppy Harlow, Erica Hill, John King, Brianna Keilar, Christi Paul, Jim Sciutto and Fredricka Whitfield all contributed to the top-rated CNN Newsroom coverage during dayside and/or weekend mornings and afternoons.

While the dayside time period was significant for the network in April, it was CNN’s prime-time performance that seemed to stand out; specifically Chris Cuomo‘s broadcasts from his basement.

Cuomo Prime Time, CNN’s top show for the month of April, beat The Rachel Maddow Show for the first time ever among adults 25-54. Cuomo Prime Time launched in June 2018. That said, Maddow beat Cuomo in Total Viewers during April. Both finished behind Hannity in the cutthroat 9 p.m. hour.

Also in prime time, Anderson Cooper 360 surpassed All In with Chris Hayes in Total Viewers for the first time since November 2016. CNN Tonight with Don Lemon outperformed Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell for the second straight month in the demo 25-54 in April. The Last Word beat CNN Tonight in Total Viewers.

The April 2020 press release from CNN:

CNN HAS MOST-WATCHED MONTH IN 15 YEARS 

CNN IS #1 NETWORK IN ALL OF CABLE IN DAYSIDE AND #2 IN TOTAL DAY IN APRIL 

 

CNN Surpasses MSNBC in Total Day among Total Viewers and Adults 25-54 

Beats MSNBC in Prime Time in the Demo;

Posts Best Prime-Time Delivery in 12 Years in Total Viewers  

Posts Most Growth in Cable News Compared to a Year Ago  

 

Viewers turned to CNN in unprecedented numbers in April to get the latest news and information about the coronavirus pandemic. In total day, April was CNN’s most-watched month in 15 years among adults 25-54 (since September 2005, Hurricane Katrina). CNN also surpassed MSNBC for the first time in three years in total day among total viewers. In dayside, CNN was #1 in all of cable and was #1 in cable news for the first time since January 2009 among adults 25-54. And in prime time, CNN surpassed MSNBC in the demo, posting its biggest margins over MSNBC in years. CNN grew by triple digits across every daypart in both total viewers and adults 25-54, far more than either Fox or MSNBC.

 

In total day (6am-6am), CNN had its best month since 2005 in the demo adults 25-54, topping MSNBC for the fifth straight month (396k vs. 218k). This represents a +82% advantage over MSNBC, the network’s best in four years (since March 2016). In total viewers, CNN averaged 1.364 million, surpassing MSNBC’s 1.291 million for the first time in three years (since February 2017). This is also the network’s third-highest total day among total viewers since the start of the Iraq War (behind March/April 2003). CNN grew the most in cable news in April in total day, increasing +149% in total viewers and +179% in the demo adults 25-54. Fox was up +65%/+83% and MSNBC +39%/+54% respectively.

 

In dayside (9am-4pm), CNN had its best delivery among adults 25-54 (490k) since the Iraq War (April 2003), beating Fox (480k) and MSNBC (249k) for the month. This is the first time CNN has ranked #1 in cable news during the day in 11 years (since January 2009). In total viewers,  CNN topped MSNBC in dayside (1.674 million vs. 1.465 million) for the first time since September 2017. CNN also ranked #1 in all of cable during dayside this month, topping Fox and all of the other cable networks in the demo. Compared to a year ago, CNN is up +167% in total viewers and a staggering +243% in the demo adults 25-54. Fox was up +63%/+96% and MSNBC increased +59%/+106%. Brooke Baldwin, Victor Blackwell, Kate Bolduan, Ana Cabrera, Anderson Cooper, Poppy Harlow, Erica Hill, John King, Brianna Keilar, Christi Paul, Jim Sciutto and Fredricka Whitfield all contributed to CNN Newsroom coverage during dayside and/or weekend coverage during the coronavirus pandemic coverage.

 

From 11am-5pm on weekdays, CNN was #1 in cable news in the demographic adults 25-54, topping Fox and MSNBC. At 4pm, CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper was #1 in cable news in the demo adults 25-54 with 531k, Fox followed with 521k and MSNBC had 322k.

 

CNN averaged 2.173 million total viewers in weekday prime (8-11pm) and 1.957 million in M-Su prime (8-11pm) this month, the network’s most-watched weekday prime time since October 2008. For the second straight month, CNN overtook MSNBC during weekday prime time (M-F, 655k vs. MSNBC’s 416k) and M-Su prime time (583k vs. MSNBC’s 343k) among adults 25-54. This is CNN’s best advantage over MSNBC in weekday prime (+57%) and in M-Su prime (+70%) since August 2019.

 

CNN’s audience grew by triple-digits in prime time in April compared to a year ago, far more than Fox and significantly more than MSNBC. In weekday (M-F) prime time in total viewers, CNN was up +147%, to Fox’s +49% and MSNBC’s +17%. Among adults 25-54, CNN grew an impressive +182% to Fox’s +65% to MSNBC’s +24%. In M-Su prime time, CNN was up +149% in total viewers and +186% in the demo vs. a year ago, compared to Fox’s +50%/+67% and MSNBC’s +21%/+30% growth respectively.

 

Also in prime time, CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 surpassed MSNBC’s All in with Chris Hayes in total viewers for the first time since November 2016, Cuomo Prime Time beat MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show for the first time ever among adults 25-54 and CNN Tonight with Don Lemon outperformed MSNBC’s Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell for the second straight month in the demo 25-54 in April.

 

CNN’s global Town Halls, Coronavirus: Facts and Fears, hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, along with health experts, CNN correspondents from around the world and others, have become essential viewing since the first one aired on March 5th. The Town Halls continue to have robust interest among viewers, averaging 2.302 million total viewers and 721k in the demo adults 25-54 over eight episodes.  Most recently (4/25), CNN aired a special Town Hall along with Sesame Street, The ABC’s of COVID-19, which provided information and tools for families and answered questions from parents and kids about the coronavirus pandemic. The Town Hall, hosted by CNN’s Erica Hill, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Sesame Street’s Big Bird, ranked #2 among adults 25-54 delivering 260k and delivered 809k among total viewers.

 

On Saturdays, CNN was #1 in cable news every hour from 11am-4pm, 7pm, 12a and 3a. On Sundays, the network was top-rated at 3pm, 11am-2pm, 8pm-11p, and 12a-5a. CNN’s Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter was #1 on Sundays at 11am in the demo adults 25-54. CNN surpassed MSNBC in both weekend total day and prime in both total viewers and adults 25-54, outperforming MSNBC for all 24 out of 24 hours on Saturdays and Sundays.

 

On 4/25 CNN’s Special Reports The Road to Change: America’s Climate Crisis, reported by Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir ranked #2 in cable news among both total viewers (1.036 million) and adults 25-54 (265k). Additionally, on 4/18 CNN’s special The Color of COVID, hosted by CNN’s Don Lemon and political commentator Van Jones, also ranked #2 in its time period among both total viewers (1.197 million) and adults 25-54 (347k).

 

 

April 2020 vs. April 2019

 

 

Among ALL cable networks, CNN ranked #2 in total day and #3 in prime time (M-F/M-Su) in total viewers. CNN also ranked #2 in total day and prime time among adults 25-54 and had the largest total day growth among all cable networks vs. last year. CNN continues to have the youngest audience in cable news in total day and prime time and reaches the largest average monthly cumulative TV audience (among both total viewers and adults 25-54) of any cable news network 2020 to-date. Across multiplatform, CNN reaches more people than any other cable news brand across TV and digital and more people ages 25-54 than any other news brand across TV and digital.

 

April News Program Highlights:

 

  • New Day with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman (6-9am) had its highest total viewers (728k) on record, and increased the most in cable news, up +61%, while Fox was up +16% and MSNBC increased +32%.  In the demo adults 25-54, CNN was up +46% to Fox’s +16% to MSNBC’s +33%.
  • The Lead with Jake Tapper (4pm) was #1 in cable news in the demo adults 25-54 with 531k, Fox followed with 521k and MSNBC had 322k. In total viewers, the Tapper-led program had its highest total viewers (1.897 million) and demo (531k) on record. The Lead was up the most in cable news by far, increasing +158% in total viewers and +222% in the demo adults 25-54.
  • The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer at 5pm averaged 2.147 million total viewers (up+177% vs. a year ago), the highest on record and 605k (up +236%) among adults 25-54, the program’s highest since September 2005. At 6pm, Sit Room averaged 2.171 million total viewers (up+215%) and 666k (+252%) in the demo, the highest on record for both demos. (These hours included The White House Task Force briefing.) Blitzer anchored special editions of The Situation Room on weekends throughout April.
  • Erin Burnett Outfront dominated MSNBC at 7pm (659kvs. 309k) now for the ninth consecutive month among adults 25-54, and was also ahead among total viewers (2.077 million vs. 1.812 million) The Burnett-led program was up the most in cable news, increasing +184% to Fox’s +128% to MSNBC’s +31% in total viewers and growing +231% in the demo, Fox was up +186% and MSNBC +63%.  April was EBOF’s highest total viewer and adult 25-54 delivery on record.
  • Anderson Cooper 360 topped MSNBC’s All in With Chris Hayes in total viewers (2.090 million vs. 2.029 million) for the first time since November 2016.  Among adults 25-54, AC360 outperformed MSNBC by wide margins in the demo 25-54 (616k vs. 332k).  The Cooper-led program was up the most in cable news, growing triple digits in total viewers and the demo 25-54 (+137%/+179%) to Fox (60%/+74%) to MSNBC (+30%/+37%).  April is the program’s highest total viewer and demo delivery on record.
  • Cuomo Prime Time (9pm) surpassed MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show for the first time since launching (in 2018) in the key demo adults 25-54 (781k vs. 545k) — a 43% advantage and the program’s best demo delivery on record and the overall network’s best 9pm delivery since September 2005.  In total viewers, CPT averaged 2.579 million, the program’s highest yet.  The Cuomo-led program grew the most in cable news at 9pm this month, increasing +177% in total viewers and +230% in the demo, far surpassing Fox’s growth (+42%/+57%) and MSNBC’s (+17%/+21%).  Cuomo Prime Time was CNN’s top-rated news program in April in both total viewers (2.579 million) and among 25-54 (781k).
  • CNN Tonight with Don Lemon (10pm) dominated MSNBC’s Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell for the second consecutive month (651k vs. 370k) among adults 25-54. The Lemon-led program had the most significant growth in cable news at 10pm this month, increasing +150% in total viewers and +199% among 25-54.  Fox was up +48%/+66% and MSNBC increased only +8% in total viewers and +19% in the demo. April is CNN Tonight’s best total viewers and demo delivery on record. At 11pm, CNN Tonight with Don Lemon ranked #1 in cable news in the demo (470k) while Fox followed with 462k and MSNBC delivered 332k. CNN Tonight showed triple-digit growth in both total viewers and the demo, the most in cable news.
  • On Saturdays, Smerconish (9am) ranked #2 across cable news among both total viewers (1.222 million) and adults 25-54 (333k) growing +83% and 104% respectively.
  • New Day Weekend with Christi Paul and Victor Blackwell ranked #2 in cable news in either the demo or total viewers during its respective time periods this month.

 

Sunday Morning Highlights

 

  • Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter (11am) ranked #1 in cable news in April in the key demo adults 25-54 (406k); Fox’s Media Buzz followed with 385k, and MSNBC had 209k. The Stelter-led program grew the most in cable news, increasing +143% in total viewers and +172% in the demo adults 25-54.
  • Inside Politics with John King (8am) topped MSNBC in both total viewers (981k vs. 632k) and the demo 25-54 (248k vs 109k), The King-led program was also up the most in cable news,  +91% in total viewers and +114% in the demo.
  • State of the Union with Jake Tapper (9am) ranked #2 in cable news in total viewers (1.337 million vs. MSNBC’s 738k) and adults 25-54 (341k vs. 125k). SOTU was the only cable news program to grow triple digits at 9am on Sundays increasing +113% in total viewers and +119% in adults 25-54.
  • Fareed Zakaria: GPS (10am) ranked #2 in cable news topping MSNBC in both total viewers (1.485 million) and the demo adults 25-54 (351k).  The Zakaria-led program grew the most in cable news, increasing triple digits in total viewers and in 25-54 (+106% among both demos).

 

Digital-to-TV Lift

  • CNN Digital viewing added a 1.7% lift (or 23k) to CNN’s P2+ TV audience in Apr-20.

 

Out of Home Lift

  • So far in 2020, CNN is averaging a +7.6% lift (or +21k) in total day among adult 25-54 with OOH viewers and a +5.2% lift (or +50k) in total day among total viewers.

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