Feb. 2018 Ratings: MSNBC Is the No. 2 Network on Cable

By A.J. Katz Comment

MSNBC was the second-most-watched basic cable network in February 2018, an achievement seemingly unthinkable just two years ago.

MSNBC was also the only cable news network to post year-over-year audience growth. Compared to Feb. 2017, MSNBC was up +21 percent in prime time viewers, and up +15 percent in the prime time demo. The network was up +23 percent in total day viewers, and up +15 percent in the total day demo.

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

  • Prime time (Mon-Sun): 1,805,000 total viewers / 397,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 989,000 total viewers / 216,000 A25-54

While the network is known for its highly-rated progressive opinion programming in early evening and prime time, MSNBC is touting viewership growth of its breaking news programming during dayside hours as well.

MSNBC’s total dayside audience was up +31 percent year-over-year, while rivals Fox News and CNN posted year-over-year audience declines.

Additionally, every hour of MSNBC’s weekday programming from 5 a.m. to 3 a.m. beat CNN in total viewers.

That said, the network didn’t fare quite as well against CNN when it came to delivering the ad-friendly A25-54 demo during dayside, and actually lost to CNN in total day among adults 25-54.

In prime time – All In With Chris Hayes beat AC360 in total viewers and the demo, while Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell dominated CNN in their respective timeslots as well.

TRMS continues as MSNBC’s No. 1 show, and remained a top 5 show in cable news, but fell short to Fox News’s Sean Hannity this month after beating him in the demo in January.

Deadline: White House, hosted by Nicolle Wallace, and The Beat With Ari Melber each delivered record viewership this month.

Finally, Morning Joe defeated New Day for the 4th month in a row, both in total viewers and among the A25-54 demo.

Here is MSNBC’s press release:

MSNBC’S BREAKING NEWS AND ANALYSIS DOMINATE CNN WITH DOUBLE-DIGIT TOTAL VIEWER GROWTH ACROSS TOTAL DAY AND DAYSIDE

MSNBC Weekday Prime Beats CNN in A25-54 for 12th Consecutive Month, Total Viewers for 15th Month in a Row

MSNBC Posts Total-Viewer Victory Over CNN Every Hour Weekdays 5am-3am and Weekends at 10am

“The Rachel Maddow Show” Leads CNN in A25-54 for 13th Straight Month and Total Viewers for 57th Straight Month

“Morning Joe” Tops CNN in A25-54 for 4th Consecutive Month and Total Viewers for 36th Consecutive Month

“Deadline: White House” and “The Beat with Ari Melber” Achieve Record Viewership

“All In with Chris Hayes,” “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” and “AM Joy” on Saturdays Best CNN in A25-54

NEW YORK (February 27, 2018) – MSNBC’s breaking news and analysis dominated CNN for the month of February, posting double-digit growth among total viewers across total day (M-Su 6am-6am) and dayside (M-F 9am-5pm), according to Nielsen.

In dayside, MSNBC averaged 1,003,000 viewers, beating CNN for the 5th straight month. Driven by the network’s breaking news coverage, MSNBC’s dayside audience was up +31% year-over-year, while both FOX News’ (-18%) and CNN’s (-14%) audiences were down. For total day, MSNBC bested CNN for the 12th straight month in total viewers and grew by +23% compared to February 2017 (vs. FOX News’ -12% and CNN’s -18%).

MSNBC topped CNN in the coveted A25-54 demographic and total viewers during weekday prime (M-F 8-11pm). MSNBC averaged 2,307,000 viewers, almost doubling CNN’s viewership of 1,163,000. In A25-54, MSNBC averaged 509,000 (vs. CNN’s 430,000). Year over year, MSNBC prime delivered more growth than the competition, up +16% in A25-54 (vs. FOX News’ -1% and CNN’s -15%) and +19% in total viewers (vs. FOX News’ -5% and CNN’s -16%) over February 2017. MSNBC prime ranked in the Top 10 among all of cable: MSNBC was #7 in A25-54 (CNN was #13) and #2 in total viewers (CNN was #9).
More viewers continue to turn to MSNBC than CNN for their news. Every hour of MSNBC’s weekday programming from 5am to 3am beat CNN in total viewers, including: “Morning Joe First Look” at 5am for the 4th month in a row; “Morning Joe” from 6-9am for the 36th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle” at 9am for the 13th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson” at 10am for the 5th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Velshi and Ruhle” at 11am for the 5th straight month; “Andrea Mitchell Reports” at 12pm for the 8th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Craig Melvin” at 1pm for the 4th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Katy Tur” at 2pm for the 4th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Ali Velshi” at 3pm for the 4th straight month; “Deadline: White House” at 4pm for the 5th straight month; “MTP Daily” at 5pm for the 10th straight month; “The Beat with Ari Melber” at 6pm for the 8th straight month; “Hardball with Chris Matthews” at 7pm for the 19th straight month; “All In with Chris Hayes” at 8pm for the 15th straight month; “The Rachel Maddow Show” at 9pm for the 57th straight month; “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” at 10pm for the 33rd straight month; and “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” at 11pm for the 19th straight month. “AM Joy” also bested CNN in total viewers on Saturdays at 10am for the 5th straight month and Sundays at 10am for the 2nd straight month.

The following MSNBC programs beat CNN in A25-54: “Morning Joe” from 6-9am for the 4th straight month; “All In with Chris Hayes” at 8pm for the 4th straight month; “The Rachel Maddow Show” at 9pm for the 13th straight month; “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” at 10pm for the 5th straight month; “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” for the 5th straight month; and “AM Joy” at 10am on Saturdays for the 5th straight month. On both Saturdays and Sundays, “AM Joy” was the only cable news program in its timeslot to show growth in A25-54 over February 2017 (+25% vs. FOX News’ -12% and CNN’s -23% on Saturday and +23% vs. FOX News’ -9% and CNN’s -24% on Sunday).

“The Rachel Maddow Show” at 9pm continued to lead CNN in A25-54 for the 13th straight month and total viewers for the 57th straight month. “Maddow” beat CNN in A25-54 (641,000 vs. CNN’s 365,000) and more than doubled CNN in total viewers (2,874,000 vs. CNN’s 999,000). Additionally, “Maddow” was #1 in A18-49 for the 4th straight month (as well as 11 out of the last 12 months), besting both FOX News and CNN (450,000 vs. FOX News’ 412,000 and CNN’s 287,000). “Maddow” was the only show to grow in A25-54 (+17% vs. FOX News’ -8% and CNN’s -28%) and post double-digit growth in total viewers (+26% vs. FOX News’ 0% and CNN’s -25%) over February 2017 in the time period.

Nicolle Wallace’s “Deadline: White House” and Ari Melber’s “The Beat with Ari Melber” both posted record viewership in February. “Deadline: White House” averaged 1,284,000 total viewers (vs. CNN’s 983,000); “The Beat” averaged 1,456,000 (vs. CNN’s 911,000).

“Morning Joe” dominated CNN across the board, besting CNN in A25-54 for the 4th month in a row and in total viewers for the 36th consecutive month. “Morning Joe” averaged 254,000 viewers A25-54 (vs. CNN’s 219,000) and 1,061,000 total viewers (vs. CNN’s 607,000). MSNBC is the only cable news network to deliver growth in the time period among A25-54 (+32% vs. FOX News’-7% and CNN’s -8% and total viewers (+25% vs. FOX News’ -7% and CNN’s -6%).

After its strongest year ever in 2017, MSNBC Digital continues to deliver incredible growth, up +32% in on network video starts year-over-year to date (Source: Omniture video data across desktop, mobile web, app, and OTT).

NOTE: February 2018 ratings are based on Nielsen Live+Same data day for 1/29/18-2/25/18. Individual show data represents regular programming only, excluding specials and breaking news.

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