August 2019 Ratings: CNN Is No. 1 in Prime Time Among Adults 25-54; Down Year-Over-Year in Total Day Viewers

By A.J. Katz 

The 2019 Democratic presidential primary debates in late-July gave CNN a much-needed August ratings boost. The ratings performance from the prime time debates was so strong among adults 25-54, that the network was actually able to earn a rare monthly prime time ratings win over both MSNBC AND Fox News in the ad-friendly A25-54 prime time demo.

Not only did CNN win August in the prime time demo, but August 2019 ended up being CNN’s most-watched August ever prime time (1.47 million total viewers). The network averaged 1.05 million prime time viewers the previous August, which had been the most-watched on record.

While its performance in prime time was quite strong relative to its competitors, CNN actually fell short to Fox News in total day viewers and the total day demo.


With that in mind, in addition to touting the prime time demo win, CNN touted its more frequent wins over MSNBC in the demo.

CNN marked 60 of the past 62 months of beating MSNBC in the 6 a.m. – 6 a.m. daypart among adults 25-54.

The network also surpassed MSNBC during dayside (9 a.m. – 4 p.m. daypart) among adults 25-54.

Compared with what the network averaged in August 2018, CNN was +40% in total prime time viewers (thanks to the debates), -2% in total day viewers, +13% in prime time adults 25-54 and -19% in adults 25-54, total day.

The average Nielsen live + same day impressions for August 2019:

  • Prime time (Mon-Sun):  1,468,000 total viewers /  391,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun):   690,000 total viewers /   169,000 A25-54

On the programming front – The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer beat MSNBC at both 5 and 6 p.m. among adults 25-54.  During the 5 p.m. hour, Sit Room averaged more demo viewers for the 15th straight month, and more demo viewers than MSNBC’s 6 p.m. hour for 21 of the past 24 months.

In the 8 p.m. hour, Anderson Cooper 360 topped All in With Chris Hayes in the demo, a bit of a surprise.

Additionally, Cuomo Prime Time with Chris Cuomo (9 p.m.) was CNN’s top-rated news program in both the demo and total viewers 1.113 million this month. Cuomo had a rather interesting end to the month as well.

Here’s CNN press release for August 2019:



CNN Beats MSNBC Across All Key Day Parts This Month in Demo 25-54

CNN is a Top 10 Network in All of Cable for 19th Consecutive Month

CNN was #1 in cable news in prime time in August, topping both MSNBC and Fox in the key demographic adults 25-54. During weekday prime time (M-F, 8-11pm), CNN was the most-watched in cable news with 484k, Fox followed 454k and MSNBC had 275k among adults 25-54. In M-Su prime time (8-11pm), CNN was top-rated with 400k, Fox had 382k and MSNBC posted 225k in the demo 25-54. This was CNN’s highest-rated August on record among total viewers in both prime time day parts.

In total day, CNN beat MSNBC once again in the key demo adults 25-54 (170k vs. MSNBC’s 129k) this month. CNN has now topped MSNBC for 60 of the past 62 months in total day in the demo. The network averaged 694k in total viewers this month – representing CNN’s third-highest August on record (following 2017 & 2018).

CNN surpassed MSNBC during dayside (9am-4pm daypart, 134k vs. MSNBC’s 110k), now for the 66th straight month, the longest streak on record. CNN’s dayside programs also easily surpassed MSNBC in August, posting higher demo 25-54 audiences including: CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto (10am), At This Hour with Kate Bolduan (11am), Inside Politics with John King (weekday, noon), CNN Right Now with Brianna Keilar (1pm) and CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin (2 & 3pm). On weekday mornings, Early Start with Christine Romans and Dave Briggs (4-6am), topped MSNBC in the demo 25-54. New Day with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman (6-9am) averaged 457k in total viewers and 108k in the demo.
Other program highlights include:
• The Lead with Jake Tapper (4pm) ranked #2 in cable news at 4pm, outperforming MSNBC’s Deadline: White House among adults 25-54 (157k vs. 142k).
• The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer beat MSNBC at both 5pm and 6pm in the key demo adults 25-54 in August. During the 5pm hour, Sit Room averaged 175k vs. MSNBC’s 137k, topping MSNBC for the 15th straight month and at 6pm, the Blitzer-led program outperformed MSNBC (183k vs. MSNBC’s 158k) for 21 out of the past 24 months.
• Erin Burnett Outfront (7pm) ranked #2 in cable news during its hour, easily topping MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews in the key demo (216k vs. 183k).
• Anderson Cooper 360 beat MSNBC this month, topping All in With Chris Hayes in the demo adults 25-54 (232k vs. 223k).
• Cuomo Prime Time with Chris Cuomo (9pm) was CNN’s top-rated news program in both the demo 25-54 (271k) and total viewers 1.113 million this month.
• CNN Tonight with Don Lemon averaged 259k in the demo and 971k in total viewers at 10pm in August.

On weekends, CNN delivered higher demo 25-54 audiences than MSNBC in both total day (S/S 6am-6am, 144k vs. 86k) and prime time (S/S 8-11pm, 191k vs. 102k) among adults 25-54. On Saturdays, CNN bested MNSBC for 22 out of 24 hours including key programs: New Day Sat, Smerconish, CNN Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield (1-3pm), CNN Newsroom with Ana Cabrera (3-6pm), S.E. Cupp Unfiltered and The Axe Files with David Axelrod. The Van Jones Show at 7pm was #1 in cable news in the demo 25-54.

On Sundays, Inside Politics with John King (8am), State of the Union with Jake Tapper (9am and noon), Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter (11am), Fareed Zakaria GPS (1pm) all ranked #2 in cable news in their respective time periods, ahead of MSNBC by double digits among adults 25-54. CNN also topped MSNBC for 23 out of 24 hours on Sundays in the demo. CNN Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield (2-4pm) ranked #1 in cable news on Sunday in 25-54.

CNN’s Original Series The Movies (7/7/19-8/18/19, Sun 9-11pm) averaged 364k viewers among adults 25-54, 1.095 million in total viewers and 67k in younger viewers (18-34) across its six premiere episodes this season. CNN’s newest Original Series ranked #1 in cable news in the key demo adults 25-54 and 18-34 and #2 in total viewers in its time period, topping MSNBC. The Movies is also up versus the prior four Sunday’s time period average, posting the largest growth in cable news across all three demos: 25-54 (+92%), total viewers (+55%), and 18-34 (+116%). CNN’s The Movies ranks #3 among the Top 10 non-fiction Historical series in all of cable among adults 25-54 year-to-date.

CNN Films: Halston (8/25/19, Sun 9p-11p) delivered 146k among adults 25-54 and 612k in total viewers. Halston ranked #2 in cable news in the key demo adults 25-54 in its time period. The film outperformed MSNBC in the time period by triple digits (+100%) in 25-54 and by double-digits (+25%) in total viewers and was also ahead of Fox (+11%) among adults 25-54.

All of Cable: Among all cable networks, CNN ranked #4 this month in total day among total viewers, marking the 19th consecutive month that CNN is a Top 10 cable network. In prime time, CNN ranked #3 in all of cable in total viewers and #7 in the demo.

Median Age: CNN attracted an audience that is two years younger than Fox News and four years younger than MSNBC in total day. In prime, CNN was three years younger than Fox and four years younger than MSNBC. MSNBC is tracking at its oldest yearly median age on record in both dayparts.

Cable News TV Reach: CNN continues to reach the largest cumulative TV audience (among both total viewers and adults 25-54) of any cable news network 2019-to-date making this the 18th consecutive year on record for the network.

Multiplatform Reach**: 2019-to-date, CNN reaches more people than any other cable news brand across TV and digital and reaches more people ages 25-54 than any other news brand across TV and digital.

Out of Home Viewing: 3Q 2019-to-date in total day, CNN is averaging a +10.2% lift (+16k) among adults 25-54.

Digital Lift: CNN Digital viewing added a +2.7% lift to CNN’s TV audience in August 2019.