CNN July 2020 Ratings: Among Adults 25-54, CNN Was No. 1 on Cable During Dayside

By A.J. Katz Comment

The cable news networks are setting a number of records these days.

CNN is completing its most-watched July in the network’s 40-year history in total day (994,000) and its second-most-watched July in prime time (1.51 million), trailing only July 2016.

The network is touting its performance among Adults 25-54, and understandably so.

It beat MSNBC in prime time for the fifth straight month and in total day for the eighth straight month among Adults 25-54, and CNN was the No. 1 basic cable network among Adults 25-54 in July during the dayside daypart in all of cable for the fourth month in a row in the demo.

CNN defines dayside as 9 a.m.-4 p.m., whereas other networks define it as 9 a.m.-5 p.m. No difference, as CNN remains No. 1 among the demo in this daypart no matter how you slice it.

CNN finished behind both MSNBC and Fox News in Total Viewers across the relevant dayparts and behind Fox News in the key A25-54 demo during prime time and total day. CNN almost beat Fox in the total day demo last month, but the margin widened in Fox News’ favor in July.

Compared with its June ratings, CNN was -19% in total prime-time viewers, -29% in total day viewers, -13% in total day viewers and -23% in the total day demo. Fox News was down from the prior month as well, so CNN isn’t alone.

On the positive side, CNN sees its largest audiences when the news cycle is hot, and that’s certainly true right now. The network’s year-over-year growth in recent months is unparalleled.

Compared with its July 2019 ratings,  CNN was +89% in total prime-time viewers, +96% in the prime-time demo, +78% in total day viewers and +92% in the total day demo.

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

  • Prime time (Mon.-Sun.): 1,510,000 total viewers / 393,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon.-Sun.): 994,000 total viewers / 252,000 A25-54

CNN prime-time programs Cuomo Prime Time and CNN Tonight with Don Lemon each registered its most-watched July ever. Additionally, Erin Burnett Outfront and The Lead with Jake Tapper each finished July No. 1 in their respective hours among Adults 25-54.

Here’s the July 2020 CNN ratings press release:

CNN HAS MOST-WATCHED JULY IN 40 YEARS

CNN BEATS MSNBC IN PRIME TIME FOR THE 5TH STRAIGHT MONTH AND IN TOTAL DAY FOR THE 8TH CONSECUTIVE MONTH IN DEMO

CNN is the #1 Television Network in All of Cable (not just news) Throughout Dayside

Burnett, Tapper, Stelter Are #1 in Cable News in July in Demo;
Cooper Tops MSNBC in 25-54; Cuomo and Lemon Have Highest July Ratings Ever among Total Viewers

Network Posts Most Growth in Cable News (by far) during this Unprecedented News Cycle

CNN had its most-watched July in the network’s 40-year history in total day and second best in prime time among total viewers this month (just following the 2016 presidential election). The network beat MSNBC in prime time for the fifth straight month and in total day for the eighth consecutive month in the key demographic 25-54. CNN was #1 in all of cable (not just news) in dayside (9am-4pm) for the fourth month in a row in the demo. On weekends, CNN was #1 in total day topping both Fox and MSNBC throughout most of the day/evenings and surpassed MSNBC for 24 out of 24 hours on Saturdays and Sundays among 25-54. CNN had the highest growth (triple and high double digits) across cable news in all key dayparts vs. a year ago, far greater growth than Fox or MSNBC.

CNN key programs posted their best July ratings on record and all surpassed MSNBC in the demo 25-54. CNN prime time programs Cuomo Prime Time and CNN Tonight with Don Lemon both hit historic audience levels, with each program registering its best July ratings ever. Anderson Cooper 360 had its second best July ratings on record among both total viewers and the demo and Erin Burnett Outfront, The Lead with Jake Tapper, Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto as well as all CNN weekday dayside programs ranked #1 in cable news in the coveted demo adults 25-54.

CNN’s digital platforms are also having record numbers, making CNN the most watched and most used news and information brand in the world.

Daypart Highlights:

In total day, CNN had its best July in history among total viewers, averaging 998k and second highest among adults 25-54 since the presidential election cycle of 2016. In the key demographic adults 25-54, CNN outperformed MSNBC (253k vs. 177k) for the eighth straight month. Compared to a year ago, CNN grew far more than Fox or MSNBC in total viewers, increasing its audience by +77%, while Fox was up +19% and MSNBC was +41%. In the key demo adults 25-54, CNN was up an impressive +90% to Fox’s +17% to MSNBC’s +40% in total day vs. last year.

CNN had its second most-watched July prime time on record (after 2016) averaging 1.525 million total viewers in M-Su prime and 1.697 million in M-F prime time. Among adults 25-54, CNN outperformed MSNBC in M-Su prime time (396k vs. 308k) and in weekday prime (449k vs. 387k), for the fifth straight month. In M-Su prime time, CNN grew much more than the others, increasing +82% in total viewers and adults 25-54, compared to Fox’s +31%/+36% and MSNBC’s +38%/+34%. In weekday prime (Monday-Friday), CNN’s growth was also significant, up +92% in total viewers and an impressive +109% among 25-54. MSNBC’s marquee M-F prime time programs were up far less this month, increasing only +41% in total viewers and +37% in the demo adults 25-54; Fox was up +31%/+36% respectively.

During dayside (9a-4p), CNN was #1 in all of cable (not just news) this month now for the fourth consecutive month among 25-54. Compared to cable news, CNN averaged 304k, Fox followed with 254k, and MSNBC had 180k in the demo. CNN has now surpassed MSNBC for the 77thstraight month among 25-54 during dayside, the longest streak ever. In total viewers, CNN averaged 1.187 million this month, the network’s highest dayside July delivery on record and second highest demo delivery (304k), following July 1995. Compared to a year ago, CNN is up +86% in total viewers and +129% in adults 25-54. Fox was up +12%/+14% and MSNBC was up +44%/+58% respectively during the hours 9am-4pm.

On weekends, CNN was #1 in cable news in total day (196k) topping both Fox (195k) and MSNBC (103k) and every hour from11am-8pm on Saturdays and every hour on Sundays from 11a-2p and 3p-5a in the key demo 25-54. CNN also outperformed MSNBC every hour on both Saturdays and Sundays in 25-54. And in weekend prime time, CNN outperformed MSNBC in the key demo 25-54 (264k vs. 111k) and total viewers (1.094 million vs. 801k).

All of Cable, Median Age, Reach and Cross Platform:

Among ALL cable networks (not just news), CNN ranked #1 in dayside in the demo (for the fourth consecutive month) and #3 in total day and primetime in total viewers in July. CNN continues to have the youngest audience in cable news in total day and prime. Additionally, CNN reaches the largest average monthly cumulative TV audience (among both total viewers and adults 25-54) of any cable news network 2020 to date. Across platforms, CNN reaches more total people than any other cable news brand across TV and digital and more people ages 25-54 than any other news brand across TV and digital.

July 2020 News Program Highlights:

• New Day with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman (6-9am) had its highest July on record in total viewers (633k). New Day also had the most growth of any cable news morning program, up +48% in total viewers and an impressive +55% among adults 25-54, compared to MSNBC’s Morning Joe (+37%/+38%); while Fox had the least growth among total viewers and declined in the demo, (+3%/-3%). Early Start with Christine Romans and Laura Jarrett (5-6am) topped MSNBC (104k vs. 66k), increasing +38% in total viewers and +35% in the demo compared to a year ago.
• The Lead with Jake Tapper (4pm) easily ranked #1 in cable news for the fourth straight month among 25-54. The program averaged 329k, Fox followed with 269k and MSNBC’s Deadline: White House with Nicolle Wallace lagged with 251k among 25-54. The Lead is having its highest July ratings on record in both total viewers (1.368 million) and the demo. The Tapper-led program also grew the most in cable news in July, up +87% in total viewers and +116% in the demo.
• The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer ranked #2 in cable news this month, topping MSNBC at both 5pm (347k vs. MSNBC’s 222k) and at 6pm (332k vs. MSNBC’s 233k) among adults 25-54. The Blitzer-led program has now outperformed MSNBC at 5pm for the 26th consecutive month and posted its highest July ever in total viewers (1.452 million) and in the demo. At 6pm, the program beat MSNBC for the ninth straight month; posting its highest total viewer delivery (1.280 million) on record and second highest demo delivery following the 2016 presidential election. Sit Room also grew the most in cable news at 5pm vs. last year, +84%/+121% and 6pm was also up the most +73%/+89%.
• Erin Burnett Outfront (7pm) ranked #1 in cable news for the second straight month in the demo adults 25-54 with 371k, Fox followed with 367k and MSNBC had 222k. CNN has now topped MSNBC at 7pm for the 12th straight month. This is the Burnett-led program’s best July on record among total viewers (1.400 million) and second best in the demo (following 2016). EBOF also grew the most in cable news at 7pm this month, increasing +94% in total viewers and by triple digits (+107% ) in the demo vs. last year.
• Anderson Cooper 360 (8pm) beat MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes for the seventh consecutive month in the key demo adults 25-54 (432k vs. MSNBC’s 295k) this month. This is AC 360’s second highest July ratings on record in total viewers (1.690 million) and in the demo behind only Election Year 2016. The Cooper-led program had the highest growth in cable news at 8pm in both demos vs. a year ago. AC 360 is up +89% in total viewers and +106% in the demo, compared to MSNBC’s +37%/+32% and Fox’s +32%/+37%.
• Cuomo Prime Time (9pm) had CNN’s highest viewership in July in total viewers (1.907 million) and in the demo adults 25-54 (484k). This month is the program’s best total viewer and demo delivery on record, and the network’s overall best 9pm time period delivery ever. The Cuomo-led program was up the most at 9pm in cable news increasing +96% in total viewers and +109% among adults 25-54; while MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show (+36%/+33%) and Fox’s Hannity (+26%/+34%) grew far less vs. a year ago during this busy newscycle. Cuomo Prime Timealso had the highest growth of any Monday-Friday cable news prime time program vs. a year ago.
• CNN Tonight with Don Lemon (10pm) topped MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell now for the fifth consecutive month in the demo adults 25-54 (447k vs. 363k). The Lemon-led program had its highest July on record among both total viewers (1.495 million) and 25-54. Compared to a year ago, CNN Tonighthad the most growth in cable news at 10pm by far, increasing +70% in total viewers and +91% in the demo. MSNBC was up +38%/+33% and Fox +35%/42% respectively. At 11pm, Don Lemon also surpassed MSNBC’s The 11th Hour with Brian Williams (326k vs. 314k), while also growing the most at 11pm (up +62% in total viewers and +72% among 25-54 vs. last year).

Brooke Baldwin, Victor Blackwell, Kate Bolduan, Pam Brown, Ana Cabrera, Bianna Golodryga, Poppy Harlow, Erica Hill, Brianna Keilar, John King, Alex Marquardt, Christi Paul, Abby Phillip, Martin Savidge, Jim Sciutto and Fredricka Whitfield all contributed to CNN Newsroom during dayside and/or weekend coverage in July.

Weekend Program Highlights

• New Day Weekend with Christi Paul and Victor Blackwell ranked #2 in cable news in the demo adults 25-54 during its respective time periods on Saturdays and Sundays in July, growing double digits vs. a year ago.
• CNN Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield and CNN Newsroom with Ana Cabrera ranked either #1 or #2 in the demo during their respective time periods on Saturdays and Sundays this month, growing double to triple digits vs. last year.
• Smerconish (Sat. 9am) ranked #2 in cable news in the key demo (188k), growing double digits during the time period among both total viewers (+46%) and in the demo 25-54 (58%) vs. a year ago.
• The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer aired on weekends throughout July and ranked either #1 or #2 on both Saturdays and Sundays among adults 25-54.
• Inside Politics with John King (Sun. 8am) topped MSNBC in both total viewers (806k vs. 660k) and the demo 25-54 (179k vs. 107k). The King-led program was also up the most in cable news in its time period, increasing +62% in total viewers and +61% in the demo compared to last year.
• State of the Union with Jake Tapper (Sun. 9am) outperformed MSNBC in total viewers (1.050 million vs. 739k) and in the demo (228k vs. 114k) this month. The Tapper led program was also up the most in cable news during the time period, growing +79% in total viewers and +63% in the demo. At noon, SOTU ranked #1 in cable news with 257k, to Fox’s 209k to MSNBC’s 156k. The noon edition was also up the most, up +104% in total viewers and +86% in the demo.
• Fareed Zakaris GPS (Sun. 10am) also surpassed MSNBC on Sunday mornings in total viewers (1.119 million vs. 898k) and among 25-54 (214k vs. 141k). The Zakaria led program was also up the most in cable news, increasing +57% in total viewers and +39% in the demo vs. last year. At 1pm, GPS was #1 in the demo with 220k, Fox followed with 192k and MSNBC had 155k. The 1pm edition was also up the most, increasing +87% in total viewers and +85% in the demo.
• Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter (Sun. 11am) was #1 in cable news in the demo with 236k, easily defeating Fox’s Media Buzz(227k) and MSNBC (151k) among adults 25-54. The Stelter led program about the media ranked #1 for the first time since April 2020. Reliable Sources also grew the most in cable news at 11am, increasing 80% in total viewers and +72% in the demo, Fox was up +17%/+6% and MSNBC +30%/+16%.

CNN Original Series

Season five of CNN’s Original Series United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell premiered at #1 in cable news in the key demo adults 25-54 this month:

• United Shades of America (S5) averaged 368k among adults 25-54 and 1.217 million total viewers across the two premiere episodes this season.
o Ranked #1 among 25-54 and #2 among total viewers across cable news in its time period season-to-date.
o Versus the prior 4 to launch Sundays, was up +37% among 25-54 and +11% among total viewers.
o The Season 5 premiere (Sunday 7/19/20, 10p: “Where Do We Even Start with White Supremacy?”) attracted the youngest median age across cable news in its time period; 10 years younger than Fox and nine years younger than MSNBC.
 Among 25-54, United Shades was the highest CNN Original Series premiere since Parts Unknown S12 Kenya (Sun, 9/23/18).

CNN Special Programming

• CNN’s global Town Halls, Coronavirus: Facts and Fears, hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, along with health experts, CNN correspondents from around the world and others, have become essential programming since the first one aired on March 5th. The Town Halls continue to have robust interest among viewers, averaging 1.940 million total viewers and 568k in the demo adults 25-54 over 18 episodes.
• On 7/4 CNN held its inaugural The 4th Across America hosted by Dana Bash and Don Lemon which drew 331k among 25-54 and 1.682 million total viewers and ranked #2 across cable news and was ahead of MSNBC in the 8pm-12am time period by triple digits in both demos.
• On 7/11, CNN Presents: Michael Smerconish: Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Talking drew 173k among 25-54 and 743k in total viewers. The program ranked #2 in cable news in the demo and was ahead of MSNBC by double digits among 25-54.
• On 7/18, CNN premiered its expanded version of CNN Special Report: The Pandemic and the President anchored by Jake Tapper (10pm-12am) averaged 255k among 25-54 and 1.203million total viewers. The program ranked #2 across cable news among both demos and outperformed MSNBC in the time period by triple and double digits among 25-54 and total viewers, respectively.
• On 7/20, CNN’s Special Report: Donald Trump’s Conspiracy Theories hosted by Fareed Zakaria attracted 542k adults 25-54 and 2.295 million total viewers. The program was ranked #2 in the demo, ahead of MSNBC by +11% in the time period.
• On 7/26 CNN aired the second installment of Unconscious Bias: Facing the Realities of Racism hosted by Fredricka Whitfield ranked #1 across cable news in the 8pm hour delivering 209k, followed by Fox (185k) and MSNBC lagged with 116k among adults 25-54. CNN was up double digits vs. Fox and MSNBC, +13% and +80% respectively.

Digital-to-TV Lift
• CNN Digital viewing added a 1.6% lift (or 16k) to CNN’s P2+ 998k total day TV audience for a total of 1.014 million across platforms this month.

Out of Home Lift
• 2020 to-date (through 7/5/20), CNN is averaging a +6.4% lift (or +19k) among adults 25-54 OOH viewers and a +4.3% or (or +46k) among total viewers for a total of 314k and 1.097 million, combined in-home and OOH adults 25-54 and total viewers respectively

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