August 2019 Ratings: MSNBC Remains the Second-Most-Watched Basic Cable Network, But Is Down in Viewers From 2018

By A.J. Katz 

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MSNBC continues to deliver huge total audiences across multiple dayparts. There’s no doubt about it. In fact, August 2019 marked the network’s 30th consecutive month of averaging more viewers across total day than CNN. However, its streak of averaging more averaged more A25-54 viewers than CNN during prime time came to an end after six months.

MSNBC, which leans left at night, appears to be losing steam right now among adults 25-54.

In addition to falling short to CNN (which also moved past Fox News in August thanks to the prime time primary debate), MSNBC continues to fall behind CNN in the demo across total day (6 a.m. – 6 a.m.).

In fact, August marked MSNBC’s lowest-rated prime time, and third-lowest total day since Trump took office. The network was -20% in prime time viewers, -35% in the prime time demo, -16% in total day viewers, and -34% in the total day demo vs. what the network averaged in August 2018.

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

  • Prime Time (Mon-Sun):  1,482,000 Total Viewers / 222,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 870,000 Total Viewers /  128, 000 A25-54

Maddow finished 5th place in total viewers for the second month in a row, behind Fox’s quartet of Hannity, Tucker Carlson Tonight, The Ingraham Angle and now The Five. However, she managed to beat her CNN competition in the demo for the 31st consecutive month, and in total viewers for the 75th month in a row.

So while some of the demo numbers might not look awesome relative to last year, MSNBC continues to average more total viewers than CNN in all relevant hours. It begins with Morning Joe (which has defeated New Day in total viewers 22 straight months), and continues all the way through Brian Williams and his 11 p.m. hour. In fact, the 11th Hour with Brian Williams is the most-watched cable news program in the timeslot, beating both Fox News and CNN.

So while there are some negatives, it’s important to remember that MSNBC is still one of the most popular networks on television.

Here’s MSNBC’s press release for August 2019:


MSNBC Total Day (M-Su 6am-6am), Dayside (M-F 9am-5pm), Weekday Prime (M-F 8pm-11pm) and M-F 7pm-12am Ranked #2 Across All Cable Networks in August

“Morning Joe” Tops CNN for the 54th Month in a Row Among Total Viewers and for the 22nd Month in a Row in A25-54

“The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” Reigns at #1 in Total Viewers Beating FOX News and CNN

“The Rachel Maddow Show” Continues to Sweep CNN in Total Viewers for the 75th Straight Month and A25-54 for 31st Straight Month

“The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” Beats CNN in A25-54 for 28 Out of the Last 30 Months and in Total Viewers for the 51st Month in a Row

“MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle” Beats CNN in Total Viewers for the 31st Straight Month and in A25-54

“AM Joy” and “Weekends with Alex Witt” Lead CNN in Total Viewers on Saturdays with “AM Joy” beating CNN in A25-54; “Kasie DC” Beats CNN on Sundays in Total Viewers

NEW YORK (August 27, 2019) – MSNBC continued its lead over CNN for the 30th straight month, beating CNN in total viewers during total day (M-Su 6am-6am), dayside (M-F 9am-5pm), weekday prime (M-F 8pm-11pm) and M-F 7pm-12am, according to Nielsen for the month of August. MSNBC was the #2-ranked network in total day across all of cable for the 8th month in a row (ahead of #4 CNN and #13 ESPN).

MSNBC was overall the #2-ranked network across all of cable in dayside (M-F 9am-5pm) ahead of #4 CNN and #14 ESPN. MSNBC M-F 7pm-12am also ranked #2 in all of cable, ahead of #3 CNN and #16 ESPN. MSNBC dayside beat CNN in total viewers for the 23rd consecutive month with an average 908,000 total viewers (vs. CNN’s 652,000). M-F 7pm-12am topped CNN in total viewers for the 33rd consecutive month with an average 1.6M total viewers (vs. CNN’s 1.4M) and ranked #2 in the time period among total viewers for the 7th month in a row.  Weekday prime (M-F 8pm-11pm) ranked #2 for the 3rd straight month among all cable networks averaging 1,792,000 total viewers (vs. CNN’s 1,775,000).

“Morning Joe” at 6am more than doubled CNN in total viewers (1.02M vs. 456,000), dominating CNN for the 54th straight month. In A24-54, “Morning Joe” beat CNN for the 22nd straight month (164,000 vs. 108,000).

“The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” was #1 in cable news at 11pm, topping FOX News and CNN in total viewers for the 23rd month out of the last 28 months. “The 11th Hour” dominated CNN for the last nine months in A25-54 (201,000 vs. 191,000). In total viewers, “The 11th Hour” more than doubled CNN’s total viewers (1.4M vs. 693,000) beating CNN for the 37th month in a row.

“The Rachel Maddow Show” at 9pm continued to double CNN’s total viewership (2.3M vs. 1.1M). “Maddow” swept CNN in total viewers for the 75th month in a row and in A25-54 for the 31st month in a row.

“The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” at 10pm ranked #2 in the hour (among A25-54) for the 7th straight month and bested CNN in total viewers for the last 51 months in a row (1.8M vs. 967,000).

“MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle” at 9am beat CNN in total viewers for the 31st straight month (977,000 vs. 575,000) and in A25-54 (131,000 vs. 122,000).

Every weekday MSNBC program from 5am-3am topped CNN in total viewers, including: “Morning Joe First Look” at 5am for the 22nd straight month; “MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle” at 9am for the 31st straight month; “MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson” at 10am for the 23rd straight month; “MSNBC Live with Craig Melvin” at 11am for the 23rd straight month; “Andrea Mitchell Reports” at 12pm for the 26th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Velshi & Ruhle” at 1pm for the 22nd straight month; “MSNBC Live with Katy Tur” at 2pm for the 10th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Ali Velshi” at 3pm for the 22nd straight month; “Deadline: White House” at 4pm for the 23rd straight month; “MTP Daily” at 5pm for the 28th straight month; “The Beat with Ari Melber” at 6pm for the 26th straight month; “Hardball with Chris Matthews” at 7pm for the 37th straight month; and “All In with Chris Hayes” at 8pm for the 33rd straight month. On August 23, “All In” produced the 1st of three special summer Friday editions of the show in front of a live studio audience in the iconic Studio 6A at 30 Rock. “All In” beat CNN across the board, averaging 1.5M total viewers (vs. CNN’s 970,000).

On Saturdays, “AM Joy” at 10am and “Weekends with Alex Witt” at 12pm led CNN in total viewers. “AM Joy” topped CNN for the 23rd straight month in total viewers (986,000 vs. 608,000) and beat CNN in A25-54 (140,000 vs. 122,000). “Weekends with Alex Witt” topped CNN for the 8th straight month in total viewers (743,000 vs. 637,000). On Sundays, “Kasie DC” at 7pm beat CNN for the 17th straight month (743,000 vs. 716,000).

MSNBC’s “American Swamp,” a special four-part docuseries with NBC News and MSNBC award-winning journalists Katy Tur and Jacob Soboroff, averaged 1 million viewers per episode on Sundays at 9pm. Each episode, “For the People, Buy the People,” “POTUS Inc,” “Voting Rights & Wrongs” and “Bill to Nowhere” beat CNN with an average of 998,000 total viewers (vs. CNN’s 809,000).

NOTE: August 2019 ratings are based on Nielsen Live+Same data day for 7/29/19-8/25/19. Unless specified, individual show data represents regular programming only, excluding specials and breaking news.