April ’22 Ratings: MSNBC Remains 2nd-Most-Watched Basic Cable Network in Total Day, Yet Struggles to Attract Adults 25-54

By A.J. Katz 

During the month of April, MSNBC remained the second-most-watched on all of basic cable in total day during a month that included the historic Senate confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, and ranked No. 6 in total average primetime viewers.

NBCU’s politics-focused cable network averaged a far larger total audience than CNN. However, it fell short to its main rival in the key A25-54 demo. Not only did MSNBC post month-to-month losses, it was also down double-digits relative to April 2021, similar to CNN.

In primetime, MSNBC shed -13% in total viewers (1.12 million) and -32% among adults 25-54 (124,000) vs. March 2022. The 124,000 represents the network’s smallest A25-54 average in the primetime daypart since 2015. Rachel Maddow being gone from the 9 p.m. hour for much of April didn’t exactly help matters. And in total day, the network shed -14% in total viewers (668,000) and -27% among adults 25-54 (75,000) from March.


Relative to April 2021, MSNBC shed -29% in total primetime viewers, -45% in the primetime demo, -30% in total day viewers, and -46% in the total day demo. To be fair, MSNBC was still basking in the Nielsen ratings glow of the beginning of a Democratic administration and in-depth coverage of the Derek Chauvin murder trial/guilty verdict at this time last year.

The average impressions for Feb. 2022 (Nielsen Live + Same Day data):

  • Prime time (Mon.-Sun.): 1,116,000 total viewers / 140,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon.-Sun.):  668,000 total viewers / 75,000 A25-54

Morning Joe ranked No. 2 in total cable news morning viewers for the 11th month in a row (but fell short to CNN New Day in adults 25-54). April 2022 also marked the first month of Morning Joe’s expansion to four hours, 6-10 a.m. The move seems to be paying off in the ratings department, as the 9 a.m. hour of Morning Joe is +8% in total viewers from what the network averaged in the hour the prior month.

The Rachel Maddow Show ranked No. 2 in the 9 p.m. hour for the 11th straight month. However, the broadcast continues to shed a significant amount of its audience with Maddow absent for much of the month.

Below, the network’s February ’22 Nielsen ratings press release:

MSNBC Total Day (M-Su 6am-6am) #2 in Cable Television, Beats CNN for 14 of the Last 15 Months
MSNBC Prime (M-F 8pm-11pm) Beats CNN for the 65th Month in a Row in Total Viewers, Tops CNN’s Audience by +90%
“Morning Joe” (M-F 6am-10am) Ranks #2 Among All Cable Networks for the 13th Straight Month, Extended 9am Hour Delivers Largest Lead Over CNN Since April 2021
“The Rachel Maddow Show” Tops CNN in Both Total Viewers and A25-54
MSNBC Tops CNN Weekdays from 5am-10am and 4pm-2am Among Total Viewers
MSNBC Digital Delivers Strongest Month Since November 2021, Up +24% Over March 2021
Weekdays from 9am-5pm and “Morning Joe” Top All Cable Networks in African American Viewership for the Month
Viewers Watch MSNBC Full Day (M-Su 6am-2am) for an Average 307 Minutes Per Week
NEW YORK (April 26, 2022) – MSNBC closed out April as the #2 network across all of cable television, according to Nielsen.
During a month that included the ongoing war in Ukraine, the historic Senate confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court and new January 6th reports, MSNBC’s breaking news and analysis drove total day (M-Su 6am-6am) to #2 in cable among total viewers (ahead of #4 HGTV, #5 CNN, and #6 ESPN). Total day delivered 675K total viewers (vs. CNN’s 584K) and beat CNN for 14 of the last 15 months. Total day delivered 76K A25-54 viewers.
MSNBC prime (M-F 8pm-11pm) topped CNN’s total audience by +90%, drawing 1.4M total viewers (vs. CNN’s 750K) and dominating CNN for the 65th straight month. Prime ranked #3 across all of cable television (ahead of #4 HGTV, #5 ESPN and #14 CNN) for the month. In A25-54, prime delivered 160K viewers.
MSNBC dayside (M-F 9am-4pm) delivered 744K total viewers and 78K A25-54 viewers. Across cable news, weekdays from 9am-5pm were #1 among African American viewers delivering 146K viewers ahead of #3 CNN (136K) and #27 FOX (31K).
“Morning Joe” (6am-10am) ranked #2 across all of cable television for the 13th month in a row. April marked the first month of “Morning Joe’s” expansion to four hours. The fourth hour of “Morning Joe” at 9am was up +8% among total viewers over March and finished #2 in cable news. “Morning Joe” at 9am delivered the largest lead over CNN since April 2021. “Morning Joe” averaged 797K total viewers (vs. CNN’s 440K) and beat CNN for the 86th consecutive month. In A25-54, “Morning Joe” averaged 95K viewers. “Morning Joe” also ranked #1 across all of cable television among African American viewers (158K), ahead of #3 CNN (102K) and #35 FOX News (17K).
“The Rachel Maddow Show” at 9pm continues to dominate, ranking #2 in the hour for the 11th month in a row. “Maddow” more than doubled CNN’s total viewership (1.7M vs. 733K) and beat CNN for the 107th month in a row. In A25-54, “Maddow” averaged 200K viewers (vs. CNN’s 189K) and topped CNN for 14 of the last 15 months.
The following shows also topped CNN for the month in total viewers: “Way Too Early with Jonathan Lemire” at 5am; “Deadline: White House” from 4pm-6pm for the 59th straight month; “The Beat with Ari Melber” at 6pm for the 24th straight month; “The ReidOut” at 7pm for 14 of the last 15 months; “All In with Chris Hayes” at 8pm for 14 of the last 15 months; “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” at 10pm for the 83rd straight month; and “The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle” for the 69th straight month.
In March 2022, MSNBC Digital delivered its strongest month since November 2021 with lifts of 24% versus the prior year. MSNBC Digital text content which includes MSNBC Daily, The ReidOut Blog, Maddow Blog and Know Your Value, continues to increase total page views and audience reach for the month. Video time spent per viewer continued to rank ahead of CNN.com for the 12th month in a row.
Viewers watched MSNBC full day (M-Su 6am-2am) for an average of 307 minutes per week (vs. CNN’s 184 minutes per week.)
NOTE: April ratings are based on Nielsen most current data for 03/28/2022-04/24/2022. Individual show data for the month represents regular programming only, excluding specials and breaking news.
Source: Comscore Media Metrix® (March 2022) & Comscore Video Metrix® (February 2022) U.S. desktop internet population 2+ and mobile internet population 13+ years old. Adobe Analytics & Partner Portals, March 2022.