February 2020 Ratings: CNN Rises to No. 5 in Prime Time

By A.J. Katz Comment

A month filled with live town halls, a State of the Union address, and major political event coverage, including the Iowa caucus, New Hampshire primary and Nevada caucus, lifted CNN to a No. 5 ranking in prime time for the month of February.

Not only did CNN perform well in Total Viewers relative to all of basic cable, coming in at No. 4 in total day and No. 5 in prime time, but it also defeated MSNBC in multiple measurements and dayparts, most notably in total day, dayside and on weekends among Adults 25-54.

CNN has defeated MSNBC in the demo during total day 66 of the past 68 months.

Despite those wins, CNN fell short to MSNBC in prime time, both in Total Viewers and among Adults 25-54.

Compared to Feb. 2019, CNN shed viewers. The network was -3% in prime time vs. Feb. 2019, and -3% in total day. Among Adults 25-54, the network was -6% in prime time, and -12% in total day vs. Feb. 2019.

Here are the audience figures for Feb. 2020 (Nielsen Live + Same Day data):

  • Prime time (Mon-Sun): 1,046,000 total viewers / 296,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun):  683,000 total viewers /  173,000 A25-54

On the programming front, The Lead with Jake Tapper topped MSNBC’s Deadline: White House for the 3rd straight month among Adults 25-54.  The Tapper-led program has now beat MSNBC in the demo for 15 of the past 24 months. That said, the show fell short in Total Viewers.

The 5 p.m. hour of The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer beat MTP Daily in Adults 25-54 for the 21st consecutive month.

Erin Burnett Outfront at 7 p.m. defeated MSNBC’s Hardball in the demo for the 7th straight month and for 10 out the past 12 months.

Anderson Cooper 360 at 8 p.m. posted a higher 25-54 audience than All in, beating MSNBC now for the second straight month in the demo 25-54.   AC 360 was CNN’s top-rated news program of the month in all relevant measurements.

CNN’s weekday, 9, 10 and 11 p.m. programming all ranked 3rd in cable news this month.

Lastly, CNN Digital viewing added a 2.4% lift (or +16,000) to CNN’s average total TV audience count in February.

Here’s CNN’s press release:

CNN Beats MSNBC in Total Day, Dayside, Weekends and Sunday Mornings in Demo 25-54 in February

 

CNN Ranks #4 in ALL of Cable in February in Total Viewers

 

CNN’s Newest Original Series, The Windsors: Inside the Royal Dynasty, Ranks #1 in Cable News

 

With the Nielsen month of February ending on Sunday (2/23), CNN beat MSNBC in total day, dayside, weekends and on Sunday mornings in the key demo adults 25-54 this month.  In February, CNN ranked #4 in ALL of cable in total day and #5 in weekday prime time among total viewers this month.  The network also had the youngest audience in cable news in total day and prime time this month and reached the largest cumulative TV audience among both total viewers and adults 25-54.

 

In total day, CNN once again outperformed MSNBC in the key demo adults 25-54 (175k vs. MSNBC’s 159k) this month.  CNN has now topped MSNBC for 66 of the past 68 months in total day demo 25-54.

 

During dayside (9am-4pm) CNN surpassed MSNBC in February (174k vs. MSNBC’s 137k), now for the 72nd straight month, the longest streak on record among adults 25-54. On weekends, CNN topped MSNBC in total day among adults 25-54 (122k vs. 85k) and during weekend prime time (143k vs. MSNBC’s 90k) among adults 25-54. All of CNN’s Sunday morning public affairs programs topped MSNBC in the demo adults 25-54 in February.

 

February News Program Highlights:

 

  • The Lead with Jake Tapper (4pm) topped MSNBC’s Deadline: White House for the third straight month among adults 25-54 (168k vs. 166k).  The Tapper-led program has now beat MSNBC for 15 of the past 24 months.
  • The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer beat MSNBC at 5pm (191k vs. 167k) in the key demo adults 25-54 in February.  The Blitzer-led hour has now topped MSNBC for the 21st consecutive month.  At 6pm, Sit Room ranked #2 in cable news (tying with MSNBC) and posted the network’s third-highest February since 2009 among total viewers (886k) in the 6pm time period, just following 2017 and 2018.
  • Erin Burnett Outfront  (7pm) once again easily surpassed MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews in the key demo adults 25-54 (253k vs. 231k).  EBOF has now outperformed MSNBC for the seventh straight month and for 10 out the past 12 months in the demo 25-54.
  • Anderson Cooper 360 (8pm) posted a higher 25-54 audience than All in With Chris Hayes this month (288k vs. 249k), beating MSNBC now for the second straight month in the demo 25-54.   AC 360 was CNN’s top-rated news program in the key demo adults 25-54 (288k) and total viewers (1.082m).
  • Cuomo Prime Time with Chris Cuomo (9pm) averaged 1.061 million and had the network’s third-highest February during the 9-10pm time period since 2009 in total viewers (following 2017 and 2019).
  • CNN Tonight with Don Lemon averaged 891k total viewers and 252k in the demo 25-54 this month at 10pm.

 

 

All of CNN’s dayside programs surpassed MSNBC in the key demo 25-54 this month including:  CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto (9am and 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 (2pm and 3pm).  CNN’s morning programs Early Start with Christine Romans and Laura Jarrett (4-6am) topped MSNBC in the demo 25-54 and CNN’s New Day with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman (6-9am) averaged 496k in total viewers and 126k in the demo in February.

 

On Saturdays, Smerconish (9am), CNN Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield (11am-3pm), CNN Newsroom with Ana Cabrera (3-6pm and 7-9pm) and S.E. Cupp Unfiltered (6pm) all ranked #2 in cable news in the demo 25-54.  New Day Weekend with Christi Paul and Victor Blackwell ranked #2 in cable news in either the demo or total viewers during its respective time periods this month. CNN topped MSNBC for 24 out of 24 hours on Saturdays in the demo 25-54.

 

On Sunday mornings, all of CNN’s public affairs programs including Inside Politics with John King (8am), State of the Union with Jake Tapper (9am and noon) and Fareed Zakaria GPS (10 am and 1pm) ranked #2 in cable news in their respective time periods, easily beating MSNBC among the 25-54 demo.  Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter (11am) also topped MSNBC in the key demo 25-54. CNN Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield, CNN Newsroom with Ana Cabrera and other CNN programming on Sunday topped MSNBC in the demo this month.  CNN beat MSNBC during all 24 hours on Sundays this month in the demo.

 

 

 

February Original Series Highlights:

 

CNN’s newest Original Series The Windsors: Inside the Royal Dynasty ((2/16/20-2/23/20 Sun 10-11pm) is #1 in the time period in both total viewers and the demo.  To date, the series delivered 271k in adults 25-54 and 1.389m in total viewers. The Windsors outperformed MSNBC and Fox in the time period by double and triple digits among all key demos.  The series is up triple digits versus the prior four Sunday time period average among all demos.

 

Race for the White House Season 2 (2/16/20-2/23/20 Sun 9-10pm) ranks #2 in cable news in the key demo, averaging 153k and 593k in total viewers.  The series was up vs. the prior four Sunday time period average among both adults 25-54 (+26%) and total viewers (+33%) and outperformed MSNBC among adults 25-54 (+39%).

 

 

Median Age

  • In February 2020, CNN’s TV audience is three years younger than Fox and four years younger than MSNBC in total day. In M-Su prime CNN’s audience is four years younger than both Fox and MSNBC. MSNBC continues to pace at its oldest yearly median age on record.

 

Cable News TV Reach
CNN continues to reach the largest cumulative TV audience of any cable news network so far this year, making this the 19th 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.

Note that Comscore Xmedia data is delivered on a delayed schedule and therefore the above reflects Jan-Dec 2019.

 

Out of Home TV Lift:

So far in 2020, CNN is averaging a +9.0% lift (or +17k) in total day among adults 25-54 with OOH viewers and a +5.8% lift (or +44k) in total day among total viewers.

 

Digital to TV Lift:

CNN Digital viewing added a 2.4% lift (or +16k) to CNN’s P2+ TV audience in February.

 

 

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