August 2017 Ratings: MSNBC Is Second-Most-Watched Network Across Basic Cable

By A.J. Katz 

MSNBC continues its ratings hot streak in 2017. The network finished No. 2 across all of basic cable this past month in total prime time viewers (Monday – Sunday), and No. 3 in total day viewers, per Nielsen.

In total viewers during weekday prime time (M-F, 8-11 p.m.), MSNBC had its best month ever, led by Rachel Maddow, and topped CNN for the ninth month in a row.

MSNBC also beat CNN in the weekday prime time demo for the sixth straight month, and posted more year-over-year audience growth than its rivals.


While MSNBC was also the No. 2 basic cable network in prime time for August 2016, the ratings were up double digits this time around (+63 percent in total prime time viewers and +55 percent in the prime time demo).

Additionally, MSNBC has topped CNN in total dayside viewers (M-F, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.) for the past two months.

In addition to posting record-setting total viewer delivery in weekday prime time hours, the network has decided to tout four straight months as No. 1 across cable news among the A18-49 demo. This is a category that’s not really taken into consideration by TV news advertisers, but a nice accomplishment nonetheless.

On the programming front, The Rachel Maddow Show delivered its best total viewer delivery for a month ever, and was the second-most-watched regularly-scheduled series across all of basic cable, only behind WWE.

Morning Joe continued its strong run in the 6 a.m.-9 a.m. time period, defeating CNN in the A25-54 demo for the third straight month, and in total audience for the 30th straight month.

The ratings for August 2017:

  • Prime time (Mon-Sun):  1,835,000 Total Viewers /  410,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun):  1,002,000 Total Viewers /  231,000 A25-54

Here’s MSNBC’s release:

“The Rachel Maddow Show” is the #1 Program for All of Cable News in A25-54, A18-49 and Total Viewers for the 2nd Month in a Row

MSNBC Posts Best Viewer Performance Across Key Dayparts and Tops CNN for 18 out of 20 Hours

MSNBC Dayside Bests CNN Among Total Viewers for the 2nd Month in a Row

“The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” Beats Regularly Scheduled Shows on FOX News and CNN in A18-49, A25-54 and Total Viewers at 11pm, Posts Best A25-54 Ratings Since 2003
“Morning Joe” Notches More Wins Over CNN in A25-54 and Total Viewers
For the 6th Straight Month, More People Watch MSNBC than CNN for Total Day M-Su 6am-6am
“AM Joy” Outpaces Competition in Growth, Delivers All-Time Highs on Sundays on Track to Have Best Month Ever

NEW YORK (August 29, 2017) – For the 4th straight month, MSNBC finished 1st in A18-49 for weekday prime (M-F 8-11pm) in the month of August 2017, according to Nielsen. MSNBC averaged 364,000 viewers A18-49 (vs. FOX News’ 348,000 and CNN’s 358,000); 514,000 viewers A25-54 (vs. CNN’s 448,000); and 2.31 million viewers (vs. CNN’s 1.28 million viewers). In total viewers, MSNBC finished at #2 among all cable networks in weekday prime (ahead of HGTV and TBS, just behind FOX News), posting the network’s best viewer delivery ever and topping CNN in total viewers for the 9th month in a row. In A25-54, MSNBC also beat CNN for 6th month in a row. Additionally, MSNBC outpaced FOX News’ and CNN’s growth year over year in the key demographics: +62% in A18-49 (vs. FOX News’ +13% and CNN’s +39%), +61% in A25-54 (vs. FOX News’ +22% and CNN’s +44%), and +63% in total viewers (vs. FOX News’ +4% and CNN’s +32%).

MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” was the #1 show across all of cable news, beating FOX News and CNN in the key demographics of A25-54 and A18-49 and total viewers. This is the 6th consecutive month in A25-54 and the 4th straight month in total viewers that “Maddow” topped all of cable news. “Maddow” delivered its best total viewer delivery ever for a month, averaging 2.8 million total viewers and 630,000 viewers A25-54. “Maddow” was the 2nd highest rated regularly scheduled show in all cable in total viewers (behind WWE).
MSNBC dayside (M-F 9am-5pm) bested CNN among total viewers for the 2nd month in a row. Dayside drew the daypart’s biggest total viewer audience for a month and posted higher growth over August 2016 than the competition in both A25-54 (+40% vs. CNN’s +27% vs FOX News’ +30%) and total viewers (+50% vs. CNN’s +7% and FOX News’ +6%). In total viewers, MSNBC dayside is the fastest growing cable news network and the 3rd fastest growing network for all of cable (after Oxygen and Fox Sports).

“The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” finished #1 at 11pm, beating regularly scheduled shows on FOX News and CNN in A18-49, A25-54 and total viewers. This is the 4th month in a row that “The 11th Hour” beat FOX News and CNN at 11pm in both A18-49 and in total viewers and the 13th consecutive month that the program topped CNN among total viewers. “The 11th Hour” averaged 1.8 million total viewers and 405,000 viewers A25-54, the best total viewer monthly delivery ever for MSNBC in the time period and the best demo delivery since April 2003.

“Morning Joe” at 6am continued its win over CNN among A25-54 and total viewers. In A25-54, “Morning Joe” topped CNN for the 3rd month in a row. “Morning Joe” has also beaten CNN among total viewers for 30 consecutive months. The program has now averaged over a million viewers for four straight months with August 2017 tying the monthly record at 1.1 million total viewers (vs. CNN’s 642,000). In A25-54, “Morning Joe” averaged 250,000 (vs. CNN’s 222,000).

In addition to posting record ratings across key dayparts, MSNBC beat CNN in total viewers for 18 out of 20 hours during weekdays (between 6am and 2am). The following MSNBC programs topped CNN among total viewers and delivered its best viewer performances: “MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle” at 9am for the 7th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson” at 10am for the 2nd consecutive month; “MSNBC Live with Velshi and Ruhle” at 11am for the 2nd consecutive month; “Andrea Mitchell Reports” at 12pm for the 2nd straight month; “MSNBC Live with Craig Melvin” at 1pm for the 2nd straight month; “Deadline: White House” at 4pm for the 2nd straight month; “MTP Daily” at 5pm for the 4th month in a row – its best viewer delivery since November 2012; “The Beat with Ari Melber” at 6pm for the 2nd straight month; “Hardball with Chris Matthews” at 7pm for the 13th straight month; “All In with Chris Hayes” at 8pm for the 9th straight month – its best audience delivery since November 2008; “The Rachel Maddow Show” at 9pm for the 51st month in a row; “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” at 10pm for the 27th straight month; “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” at 11pm and the midnight re-air of “The Rachel Maddow Show.” “MSNBC Live with Ali Velshi” at 3pm also delivered all-time highs among total viewers.

For the 6th straight month in August 2017, more people turned to MSNBC M-S 6am-6am over CNN. For M-S 6am-6am, MSNBC averaged just over 1 million viewers, the best total viewer delivery ever in the network’s 21-year history, 231,000 viewers A25-54, which was the best A25-54 delivery since November 2012, and 164,000 viewers A18-49. MSNBC M-S 6am-6am posted more growth than the competition in all three demos: total viewers (+50% vs. CNN’s +23% and FOX News’ +8%), A25-54 (+42% vs. CNN’s +39% vs FOX News’ +28%) and A18-49 (+44% vs. CNN’s +36% vs FOX News’ +29%) over August 2016. MSNBC was the 3rd most-watched cable network (behind FOX News and Nickelodeon). MSNBC was also the 3rd fastest growing cable network in total viewers over August 2016.

On weekends, “AM Joy’s” Saturday edition averaged 1.04 million total viewers and 234,000 viewers A25-54. “AM Joy” outpaced FOX News in total viewer and A25-54 growth over August 2016. “AM Joy” was up +51% in total viewers (vs. FOX News’ +21% and CNN’s +37%) and +65% in A25-54 (vs. FOX News’ +60%). The Sunday edition averaged 953,000 total viewers – the best total viewer delivery in the time period ever – and 239,000 viewers A25-54 – the network’s best A25-54 delivery since September 2005. “AM Joy” delivered more growth than FOX News and CNN in total viewers (+62% vs. FOX News’ +12% and CNN’s +21%) and in A25-54 (+64% vs. FOX News’ +32% and CNN’s +38%).

Additionally in August 2017 to-date, MSNBC Digital – including its website, mobile app and OTT platforms – are on track to have their best month ever in video starts (Omniture). In July, experienced its best year-over-year growth in video starts compared to FOX News and CNN, according to comScore (desktop only). MSNBC was up +103% in July 2017 vs. CNN Politics (-17%) and Fox News Politics (-27%) in July 2016. Viewers are also spending more time watching video (51 minutes per viewer) than the rest of their competitive set, including (15 minutes per viewer) and (12 minutes per viewer).