Aug. 2020 MSNBC Ratings: DNC Coverage Delivers Network Its Largest Weekly Prime-Time Audience Ever

By A.J. Katz Comment

Similar to its competition, MSNBC had a superb month, ratings-wise.

NBC’s politics-focused cable network averaged more total viewers than CNN in prime time for the 45th consecutive month, and ranked No. 2 among all cable networks for the 7th consecutive month in total viewers.

MSNBC also averaged more viewers for its 2020 Democratic National Convention coverage than any other network, broadcast or cable, and delivered the network’s highest-rated week ever in prime time, the week of Aug. 17, 2020. While CNN remained No. 1 in the demo for this year’s DNC, MSNBC captured more viewers overall.

Rachel Maddow, Nicolle Wallace, Joy Reid and Brian Williams fronted MSNBC convention coverage this year.

How did MSNBC trend compared with other relevant months? Relative to its average viewership for July 2020, the network was +5% in total prime-time viewers, +19% in the prime-time demo, +4% in total day viewers and +11% in total day demo in August 2020.

Compared with its average viewership for the year-ago month (August 2019), MSNBC was way up this past month. Having a Democratic National Convention to televise will usually do that. MSNBC was +48% in total prime-time viewers, +61% in the prime-time demo, +43% in total day viewers and +51% in total day demo.

The average impressions for July 2020 (Nielsen live + same day data):

  • Prime Time (Mon.-Sun.):  2,194,000 total viewers / 357,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon.-Sun.):  1,248,000 total viewers / 193,000 A25-54

MSNBC averaged more total viewers than CNN in most hours for August; though the story was different as far as adults 25-54 goes.

Morning Joe at 6 a.m. scored its largest lead ever over CNN in total viewers and the largest lead in A25-54 since November 2012. In total viewers, Morning Joe grew more than four times Fox News (+33% versus +7% for first place Fox & Friends) compared to August 2019.

The ReidOut scored the highest-rated month ever in total viewers for the 7 p.m. hour in MSNBC history, and averaged more total viewers than Erin Burnett Outfront. That said, it finished No. 3 in its hour behind The Story with Martha MacCallum and Outfront in the key A25-54 demo, despite averaging the network’s largest 7 p.m. demo delivery since April 2018 (317,000). The ReidOut launched on MSNBC July 20, 2020.

Here’s the MSNBC ratings press statement for August 2020:

MSNBC TOPS CNN IN AUGUST, GROWS MORE THAN FOX NEWS AND CNN DURING MAJOR MONTH FOR DECISION 2020 COVERAGE

“Morning Joe” Posts Largest Lead Over CNN Ever, Beats CNN for the 66th Straight Month in Total Viewers and for the 34th Straight Month in A25-54  

MSNBC Tops CNN in Total Viewers Across Total Day (M-Su 6am-6am), Dayside (M-F 9am-5pm) and Prime (M-Su 8pm-11pm) 

“The ReidOut” Delivers MSNBC’s Highest-Rated Month at 7pm in Network History 

MSNBC Was #1 Across All of Television in Prime for 2020 Democratic National Convention, Delivers Highest-Rated Week Ever in Prime 

Weekend Total Day (Sa-Su 6am-6am) Grew More Than FOX News in A25-54

NEW YORK (September 1, 2020) – MSNBC’s special coverage and analysis during the month of August drove MSNBC to #2 in all of cable with double-digit year-over-year growth, according to Nielsen. Total day (M-Su 6am-6am), dayside (M-F 9am-5pm) and prime (M-Su 8pm-11pm) all beat CNN in total viewers and total day grew more than FOX News compared to August 2019.

Total day ranked #2 across all of cable television for the 4th month in a row averaging 1.3M total viewers and easily topping CNN’s 1M (ahead of #3 CNN, #4 HGTV and #14 ESPN). MSNBC grew more than FOX News and CNN in both total viewers (+44% vs. FOX News’ +32% and CNN +47%) and A25-54 (+52% vs. FOX News’ +35% and CNN’s +51%) compared to August 2019.

Dayside ranked #2 across all of cable for the 4th month straight (ahead of #3 CNN, #4 HGTV and #20 ESPN) and doubled FOX News’ growth in both total viewers (+51% vs. FOX News’ +26%) and A25-54 (+69% vs. FOX News’ +31%) compared to August 2019. MSNBC’s dayside breaking news and analysis drew 1.4M total viewers besting CNN’s 1.2M.

MSNBC prime dominated CNN for the 45th consecutive month in total viewers averaging 2.2M (vs. CNN’s 1.7M) and ranked #2 among all cable networks for the 7th consecutive month in total viewers. In A25-54, MSNBC prime grew more than four times more than CNN (+61% vs. CNN’s +15% and FOX News’ +68%). Weekday prime (M-F 8pm-11p) delivered its best monthly audience performance in total viewers ever averaging 2.8M viewers (vs. CNN’s 2M) and ranking #2 across cable for the 7th straight month and besting CNN for the 45th straight month.

“Morning Joe” at 6am scored its largest lead ever over CNN in total viewers (+738K) and the largest lead in A25-54 since November 2012 (+86K). “Morning Joe” topped CNN for the 66th month in a row in total viewers (1.4M vs. CNN’s 620K) and 34th month in a row in A25-54 (222K vs. CNN’s 136K). In total viewers, “Morning Joe” grew more than four times FOX News (+33% vs. FOX News’s +7%) compared to August 2019. In A25-54, “Morning Joe” increased viewership by +35% while FOX News was down -5% compared to August 2019.

“The ReidOut” at 7pm scored the highest-rated month ever in total viewers for the hour in MSNBC history. “The ReidOut” averaged a record-shattering 2M total viewers (vs. CNN’s 1.4M) and topped CNN for the 2nd month in a row in total viewers. Anchored by Joy Reid, “The ReidOut” launched on MSNBC July 20, 2020.

MSNBC was the most-watched network across all of television in total viewers for the 2020 Democratic National Convention (Aug. 17-Aug. 20), sweeping each night during prime (8pm-11pm), delivering the network’s highest-rated week ever in prime, and unseating CNN as the most-watched network during the Democratic National Convention, according to Nielsen. MSNBC drew a record 4.9M average during the four nights of coverage in prime dominating  all competitors by at least 700K viewers (vs. FOX News’ 3.6M, CNN’s 4.2M).  Where all networks competed head-to-head (10-11pm), MSNBC’s 5.9M delivery among total viewers led ABC News’ 2.6M, CBS News’ 2M as well as CNN 5.3M and Fox News 2.4M.  MSNBC was the only cable news network to gain vs the 2016 DNC (10-11pm), +26%, while CNN (-20%) and FOX News (-19%) were both down.

The following programs also beat CNN among total viewers: “Morning Joe First Look” at 5am topped CNN for the 4th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle” at 9am topped CNN for the 43rd straight month; “MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson” at 10am topped CNN for the 4th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Craig Melvin” at 11am topped CNN for the month; “Andrea Mitchell Reports” at 12pm topped CNN for the 2nd straight month; “MTP Daily/MSNBC Live” at 1pm topped CNN for the month; “Deadline: White House Special/MSNBC Live with Ayman Mohyeldin” at 3pm topped CNN for the 4th straight month; “Deadline: White House/MTP Daily” at 4pm and 5pm topped CNN for the 38th straight month; “The Beat with Ari Melber” at 6pm topped CNN for the 4th straight month; “All In with Chris Hayes” at 8pm topped CNN for the 2nd straight month “The Rachel Maddow Show” at 9pm topped CNN for the 87th straight month; “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” at 10pm topped CNN for the 63rd straight month and “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” at 11pm topped CNN for the 49th straight month and delivered a record-breaking month in total viewers.

On Saturdays, “Velshi” at 8am and “AM Joy” at 10am ranked #2 in the hour for the 3rd month in a row in total viewers. “Velshi” also grew more than FOX News and CNN in both total viewers (+58% vs. CNN’s +44% and FOX News’ +16%) and A25-54 (+73% vs. CNN’s +54% and FOX News’ +13%.) MSNBC weekend total day (Sa-Su 6am-6am) grew more than FOX News in A25-54 up +25% (vs. FOX News’ +21%) compared to August 2019.

NOTE: August ratings are based on Nielsen most current data day for 07/27/2020-08/30/2020. Individual show data for the month represents regular programming only, excluding specials and breaking news.

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