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MSNBC remains one of the most popular networks on cable television.
The NBCU politics-focused outlet ranked No. 2 among all basic cable networks for the month of February, the 36th consecutive month it has earned that status. The network has also averaged 1 million total viewers each of those months.
MSNBC defeated rival CNN in multiple dayparts and measurements this month, including Total Viewers during prime time and Adults 25-54 during prime time. However, MSNBC finished behind CNN in the key demo on weekends and in total day, 6 a.m.-6 a.m.
Additionally, compared with Feb. 2019, MSNBC shed a larger percentage of viewers than the primary cable news competition: -9% in prime time, -10% in total day, to go with -7% in the prime time demo and -15% in the total day demo.
Here are the ratings for Feb. 2020 (Nielsen Live + Same Day data):
- Prime time (Mon-Sun): 1,783,000 total viewers / 317,000 A25-54
- Total Day (Mon-Sun): 997,000 total viewers / 157,000 A25-54
On the programming front, each MSNBC weekday show averaged more Total Viewers than its CNN time slot competition.
Morning Joe had another strong month, averaging 1.1 million viewers and 178,000 A25-54 viewers.
The Rachel Maddow Show at 9 p.m. maintained its No. 2 ranking in cable news’ most competitive hour, 9 p.m. TRMS averaged more Total Viewers than CNN 9 p.m. competition for the 81st consecutive month and more Adults 25-54 for the 37th consecutive month.
The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell at 10 p.m., and The Last Word with Brian Williams at 11 p.m. both came in 2nd in their respective hours, both in Total Viewers and in Adults 25-54.
Last but not least, MSNBC and NBC News made television history on Feb. 19 with the most-watched Democratic debate to date. Across both networks, the debate drew a historic 20 million total viewers and was the highest-rated Democratic debate ever in A25-54. On MSNBC, 7.7 million total viewers watched on MSNBC alone – achieving the 3rd-largest audience in the network’s history – behind the USA Hockey game from the 2010 Olympics on Feb. 21, 2010 (8.2 million total) and the Democratic presidential debate in Cleveland with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on Feb. 26, 2008 (7.7 million total).
Here’s MSNBC’s ratings press release for Feb. 2020:
MSNBC CONTINUES TO TOP CNN IN FEBRUARY – DAYSIDE, PRIME AND TOTAL DAY ARE #2 ACROSS ALL OF CABLE IN TOTAL VIEWERS
MSNBC Dayside (M-F 9am-5pm), Prime (M-Su 8pm-11pm) and Total Day (M-Su 6am-6am) Dominate CNN in Total Viewers, Prime Also Tops CNN in A25-54
MSNBC Drew a Record 7.7M Total Viewers During the 9th Democratic Debate as Part of NBC News and MSNBC’s Record-Breaking Night, Achieves MSNBC’s 3rd Largest Audience in Network History
“Morning Joe” at 6am More Than Doubles CNN’s Total Audience, Beats CNN for the 60th Straight Month and in A25-54 for the 28th Straight Month
“The Rachel Maddow Show” at 9pm Leads CNN by More Than 1M Total Viewers, Tops CNN for the 81st Month in a Row in Total Viewers and in A25-54 for the 37th Month in a Row
“The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” at 10pm Doubles CNN in Total Viewers, Bests CNN in Total Viewers for the 57th Straight Month and in A25-54 for the 15th Straight Month
“The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” at 11pm Scores More Than 1M More Viewers Than CNN, Beats CNN for the 43rd Consecutive Month and for the 15th Consecutive Month in A25-54
Every Weekday Hour Between 5am-3am and Weekends (Sa-Su 6am-2am) Top CNN Among Total Viewers
NEW YORK (February 25, 2020) – MSNBC continued to top CNN among total viewers for the month of February, according to Nielsen. MSNBC dayside (M-F 9am-5pm) again dominated CNN, averaging 1.1M total viewers (vs. CNN’s 813K) and ranking #2 across all of cable in the time period for the 19th straight month. MSNBC prime (M-Su 8p-11pm) averaged 1.8M total viewers, leading CNN by more than 700K and ranking #2 or better in the time period for 39 straight months. MSNBC total day (M-Su 6am-6am) averaged over 1M total viewers and ranked #2 in all of cable for the 36th straight month. In A25-54, prime bested CNN, averaging 328K viewers A25-54 (vs. CNN’s 302K).
On February 19, 2020 NBC News and MSNBC made television history with the most-watched Democratic debate to date. Across both networks, the debate drew a historic 20M total viewers and was the highest-rated Democratic debate ever in A25-54. On MSNBC, 7.7M total viewers watched on MSNBC alone – achieving the 3rd-highest rated program in the network’s history – behind the USA Hockey game from the 2010 Olympics on February 21, 2010 (8.2M total viewers) and the Democratic presidential debate in Cleveland with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on February 26, 2008 (7.7M total viewers). This was MSNBC’s highest-rated debate this 2020 election cycle (beating MSNBC’s record of 6.68M total viewers on June 29, 2019 in Miami for NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo’s debate).
“Morning Joe” again dominated at 6am, averaging 1.1M total viewers topping CNN by more than 600K. February marks the 60th straight month “Morning Joe” beat CNN in total viewers and the 28th straight month in A25-54. “Morning Joe” drew 178K viewers in the A25-54 demo vs. CNN’s 127K.
“The Rachel Maddow Show” at 9pm was the #2 program in all of cable news for the 12th month in a row among total viewers and for the 3rd month in a row in A25-54. “Maddow” averaged 2.7M total viewers – more than doubling CNN’s total viewership and besting CNN for the 81st consecutive month. In A25-54, “Maddow” averaged 443K (vs. CNN’s 255K) ranking #2 in the hour and besting CNN for the 37th consecutive month.
“The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” at 10pm more than doubled CNN’s total audience with 2M total viewers (vs. CNN’s 898K) dominating CNN for the last 57th months. “The Last Word” topped CNN for the 15th consecutive month with 310K viewers (vs. CNN’s 254K). “The Last Word” ranked #2 in the hour in both total viewers and A25-54.
“The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” at 11pm finished on top of CNN for the 43rd straight month more than doubling CNN’s viewership 1.8M total viewers (vs. CNN’s 784K) and ranked #2 in the hour. In A25-54, “The 11th Hour” ranked #2 in the hour and beat CNN for the 15th month in a row with 307K viewers (vs. CNN’s 237K).
In February, every weekday MSNBC program from 5am-3am beat CNN in total viewers: “Morning Joe First Look” at 5am for the 28th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle” at 9am for the 37th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson” at 10am for the 29th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Craig Melvin” at 11am for the 29th straight month; “Andrea Mitchell Reports” at 12pm for the 32nd straight month; “MSNBC Live with Velshi & Ruhle” at 1pm for the 28th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Katy Tur” at 2pm for the 16th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Ali Velshi” at 3pm for the 28th straight month; “Deadline: White House” with Nicolle Wallace at 4pm for the 29th straight month in total viewers and tied with CNN in A25-54; “MTP Daily” at 5pm for the 34th straight month; “The Beat with Ari Melber” at 6pm for the 32nd straight month in total viewers and tied with CNN in A25-54; “Hardball with Chris Matthews” at 7pm for the 43rd straight month; and “All In with Chris Hayes” at 8pm for the 39th straight month.
Weekends (Sa-Su 6am-2am) topped CNN in total viewers. A number of shows on Saturdays also topped CNN: “AM Joy” at 10am beat CNN for the 29th month in a row in total viewers; “Weekends with Alex Witt” at 12pm; and “MSNBC Live” at 2pm. On Sundays, “AM Joy” at 10am beat CNN for the 15th straight month in total viewers and “Kasie DC” at 7pm beat CNN for the 23rd consecutive month.
NOTE: February 2020 ratings are based on Nielsen most current data day for January 27, 2020 – February 23, 2020. Individual show data for the month represents regular programming only, excluding specials and breaking news.