February 2012 Ratings: CNN Grows as New Shows Struggle

By Chris Ariens 

While it was a split decision in primetime between CNN and MSNBC, CNN — unlike MSNBC — added primetime viewers vs. February 2011: +11% in the demo and +5% in Total Viewers.

The ratings for February, 2012:

  • Primetime (Mon-Sun): 805K Total Viewers / 282K A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 475K Total Viewers / 163K A25-54

Primary nights, a GOP debate and the news surrounding the death and funeral for Whitney Houston boosted CNN’s February standing. While the network grew year-over-year — a feat in itself considering Feb. ’11 was a busy news month with the Arab Spring — the news is not all good for CNN. Two of its new shows are struggling. “Starting Point” the 7-9am morning show with Soledad O’Brien is putting up the lowest numbers for the time period since “American Morning” launched 10 years ago. The other new show, “Early Start,” in its second hour, as well as “Starting Point” (6-9am) are down -30% in Total Viewers and -33% in A25-54 vs. “American Morning” in Feb. 2011.

“Erin Burnett OutFront” is down -25% in both Total Viewers and A25-54 viewers vs. “John King USA” which aired in the 7pmET time period last year. King, however, was up +20% last year (with extensive coverage of the Arab Spring) vs. Feb. 2010.

With many nights of Houston coverage, “Piers Morgan Tonight” was up +25% in younger viewers and up +14% in Total Viewers month-over-month. Year-over-year the show is down -19% in Total Viewers and down -10% in the demo.

CNN’s release after the jump…



AC 360 Tops MSNBC at 10p

CNN Tops MSNBC in Total Day and Dayside

February 2012 Highlights:
• CNN tops MSNBC in M-F primetime in target demo
• CNN tops MSNBC in M-Su primetime in key demo
• CNN tops MSNBC in total day among total viewers and in key demo
• CNN tops MSNBC in dayside in total viewers and target demo
• AC 360 tops MSNBC at 10p in key demo
• Despite the Arab Spring a year ago, CNN shows growth in primetime and total day, while MSNBC and FNC decline.

In February, CNN topped MSNBC in M-F prime and M-Su prime in the target demo 25-54 and in both total viewers and in the key demo in total day and dayside. Anderson Cooper 360 at 10pm also topped MSNBC’s Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell among 25-54.

Despite cable news being fueled by coverage of the Arab Spring during this time a year ago, CNN showed the most growth this month vs. a year ago in primetime and total day, while MSNBC and FNC both down.

In Monday-Friday primetime, CNN topped MSNBC (270k vs. 252k) and increased +11% (270k vs. 243k) in the demo 25-54 and grew 5% in total viewers vs. last year. MSNBC is down -5% (252k vs. 266k) and FNC is off -13% (502k vs. 579k) in the demo, and down -1% and -3% respectively in total viewers compared to a year ago. February represents the second consecutive month that CNN has outperformed MSNBC in M-F prime in the key demo.

Anderson Cooper 360 at 10p continued to show a strong ratings performance, topping MSNBC’s Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell at 10p in the key demo (262k vs.238k).

In Monday-Sunday primetime, CNN topped MSNBC in the target demo (283k vs. 237k) and grew an impressive +31% (283k vs. 216k) vs. a year ago, while MSNBC is down -9% (237k vs. 260k) and FNC declined -10% (418k vs. 466k). In total viewers, CNN grew +20% (807k vs. 675k), while MSNBC declined -3% and FNC is flat.

In total day (6a-6a), CNN outperformed MSNBC in both total viewers (475k vs. 455k) and the target demo (163k vs. 145k). In the key demo 25-54, CNN is up +3% (163k vs. 159k) last year, with FNC dropping -6% (270k vs. 286k) and MSNBC declining -1% (145k vs. 146k).

During the dayside (9a-5p), CNN also topped MSNBC in total viewers by +11% (439k vs. 396k) and by +27% in the key demo (117k vs. 92k).

CNN reached a cumulative audience of 95.9 million viewers in February 2012, FNC followed with 79.3 million and MSNBC had 75.5 million.