Feb. 2018 Ratings: CNN Has Second-Best February In 10 Years

By A.J. Katz 

CNN was a top 10 basic cable network in total day (6 a.m. – 6 a.m.) in February, and continued to have success when it comes to delivering to the ad-friendly adults 25-54 demo across total day.

But CNN is struggling relative to 2017 and continues to trail its main competitors in prime time, the daypart advertisers pay the most for.

Despite being down year-over-year, this was CNN’s second best February in 10 years.


The ratings for Feb., 2018 (Nielsen Live + Same Day data):

  • Prime time (Mon-Sun): 979,000 total viewers / 357,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 700,000 total viewers / 230,000 A25-54

Compared to Feb. 2017, CNN was down -18 percent in prime time viewers, and down -16 percent in the prime time demo. Across total day, the network was down -18 percent in viewers and down -19 percent in the demo.

CNN defeated rival MSNBC in the key A25-54 demo in total day for the 44th consecutive month. It also finished ahead of MSNBC every hour from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the demo, as well as on weekends.

In addition to weekday afternoon victories over MSNBC in the demo, Erin Burnett edged Chris Matthews at 7 p.m. in the category (357k vs. 355k). Burnett has now won her timeslot over Matthews five of the past seven months in the demo, including back-to-back monthly wins.

On the CNN Original Series front, The Van Jones Show defeated both Fox News and MSNBC in its hour among adults 25-54. The Radical Story of Patty Hearst, which completed its six-episode last weekend, won the Sunday, 9 – 11 p.m. time period among adults 25-54.

Here is CNN’s release:



Tapper, Blitzer and Burnett Top MSNBC among Adults 25-54

CNN Original Series The Radical Story of Patty Hearst Ranks #1 in Demo

CNN Continues to be a Top 10 Network in ALL of Cable

Despite increased tune-in during Mr. Trump’s first month as President in February 2017, CNN had its second-best February total day in ten years (since 2008) among adults 25-54. The network also had its second-best February dayside performance since 2009 in both 25-54 and total viewers. And in prime time, CNN had its third-best February audience levels since 2008 among adults 25-54 and since 2009 among total viewers.

CNN once again surpassed MSNBC in total day, daytime and weekends among adults 25-54 this month. CNN has now beaten MSNBC for 44 straight months in total day in the key demographic 25-54 (230k vs. 217k), the longest monthly streak since January 2010.

Every hour of CNN’s daytime programming (9am-4pm) topped MSNBC’s dayside’s programming this month among adults 25-54. During the day, CNN had a +18% advantage over MSNBC in the key demographic adults 25-54 (218k vs. 185k), with CNN now outperforming MSNBC for 48 consecutive months in this important daypart. This is the longest streak on record.

CNN also easily outperformed MSNBC during weekend programming among adults 25-54 in both total day (182k vs. MSNBC’s 129k) and prime time (182k vs. MSNBC’s 119k). On Saturdays, CNN delivered higher demo audiences than MSNBC for 22 out of 24 hours and on Sundays, beat MSNBC all 24 hours among adults 25-54. CNN ranked #1 in cable news among adults 25-54 on Saturdays at 1pm and on Sundays during the 12pm, 3pm, 4pm, 9pm, 10pm, and 4am hours.

Program Highlights:

Erin Burnett Outfront (7pm) topped MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews in February (357k vs. 355k) for the second straight month and for five of the last seven months. CNN is having its second-best February 7pm delivery since 2008 among 25-54 and since 2009 among total viewers. Anderson Cooper 360 (8pm) is having its third-best February delivery on record in both adults 25-54 (402k) and total viewers (1.142m) and is also CNN’s top-rated prime time program. CNN Tonight with Don Lemon (10pm) is having its second-best February delivery since 2009 in both adults 25-54 (352k) and total viewers (925k). New Day with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota is having its second-best February on record in adults 25-54 (219k) and total viewers (608k).

Other key CNN programs such as Early Start with Christine Romans and Dave Briggs, The Lead with Jake Tapper, The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, Smerconish, State of the Union with Jake Tapper, Inside Politics with John King, Fareed Zakaria GPS and Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter all easily surpassed MSNBC this month, posting higher demo 25-54 audiences.

The Van Jones Show (239k) ranked #1 in its time period across cable news among adults 25-54. The program was ahead of Fox News (230k) by +4% and easily topped MSNBC (126k) by +90% in the demo. The Axe Files with David Axelrod (165k) ranked #2 in cable news in its time period and was ahead of MSNBC by double digits (+18%; 165k vs. 140k).

CNN Original Series:

CNN’s newest Original Series, The Radical Story of Patty Hearst, completed its six-episode run in February, with the docuseries ranking #1 in cable news in the Sunday 9-11pm time period among 25-54. In total viewers, the docuseries ranked #2 in cable news, more than doubling the MSNBC delivery in the block (+106%; 896k vs. 434k). Versus the prior four Sundays, this series posted the largest and only double-digit growth in cable news among both 25-54 and total viewers.

The Radical Story of Patty Hearst has posted 260k transactions on VOD to-date. This makes Patty Hearst CNN’s #1 show on VOD so far in 2018, making up 24% of CNN’s YTD transactions despite making up just 2% of episodes, and being available for less than half the year. Episode 1 (The Kidnapping) posted 20k transactions on the linear premiere day, 2/11, the most viewing in a single day for a CNN Original Series title on record.

All of Cable:

Among ALL cable networks, CNN ranked #8 in total day in total viewers in February. This marks the second straight month and the sixth time in the last seven months that CNN is a Top 10 cable network in total day among total viewers.

Median Age:

Year-to-date, CNN attracts an audience that is four years younger than Fox News and MSNBC in total day, and seven years younger than Fox News and MSNBC in prime time. MSNBC is tracking at its oldest yearly median age on record in total day and prime time.

Out-of-Home Viewing:

In January 2018 (most recent data) total day, CNN averaged a +4% lift with out-of-home viewing among adults 25-54. Among all reportable out-of-home cable networks, CNN ranked #2 with 25-54 viewers gained (+10k), behind only ESPN (+33k).