February 2016 Ratings: CNN Is No. 1 in Prime Time Demo

By Chris Ariens Comment

With two primary debates and four candidate town halls, CNN’s investment in politics is paying off in ratings. The network saw the most cable news growth in prime time in February up +217 percent in viewers and up +194 percent in the A25-54 demo. And for the third time in 6 months–September and December being the others–CNN is the most-watched network in the prime time demo.

The ratings for February, 2016 (Nielsen Live + Same Day data):

  • Prime time (Mon-Sun): 1,614,000 total viewers / 500,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 734,000 total viewers / 211,000 A25-54

In February, CNN had its most-watched prime time since November 2008. While still behind Fox News among total viewers (and total day demo) CNN led MSNBC by +32 percent in viewers and +39 percent in the demo during daytime viewing. CNN has topped MSNBC in prime time in total viewers for the third month, and for 20 months in the demo.

Here’s more in CNN’s release:

CNN dominated cable news in February, ranking #1 in primetime with a +17% advantage over second place Fox News among adults 25-54. Also this month, CNN posted its highest primetime ratings in both total viewers and the demo 25-54 since November 2008. CNN was the fastest growing network in all of cable this month in M-Su primetime, in both total viewers and the demo, growing triple digits from a year ago. CNN also handily topped MSNBC primetime in total viewers and doubled MSNBC ratings among adults 25-54 this month. CNN has now topped MSNBC in primetime in total viewers for the third consecutive month and for 20 months in the demo. In Total Day, CNN ranked #2 in cable news in both total viewers and adults 25-54, outperforming MSNBC for the 20th straight month in both demos.

February Programming:

Dayside:
• CNN dayside (9a-4p) programs all ranked #2 in February among total viewers and in the demo with CNN posting a +32% advantage over MSNBC (618k vs. 467k) and a +39% lead in the demo (140k vs. 101k) in the daypart. MSNBC ranked #3.

Late Afternoons:
• The Lead with Jake Tapper (4pm) ranked #2 in cable news, easily topping MSNBC in both total viewers (727k vs. MSNBC’s 492k) and the demo (155k vs. 99k). The Lead grew +23% in total viewers and +7% in adults 25-54 from a year ago.
• The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer (5-7pm) ranked #2 in cable news besting MSNBC in both total viewers (774k vs. MSNBC’s 587k) and in the demo (205k vs. 113k). The Situation Room was up in both total viewers (+30%) and in the demo (+17%) vs. a year ago.

Primetime:
• CNN beat MSNBC during M-F primetime hours at 7pm, 8pm and 10pm among adults 25-54 for the 20th straight month, the longest streak in nearly 16 years (since April 2000).
• Erin Burnett Outfront (7pm) ranked #2 in the demo (236k), topping MSNBC’s Hardball (180k) by +31%. EBOF was up +32% vs. a year ago in total viewers and +17% in the demo 25-54.
• Anderson Cooper 360 ranked #2 in both total viewers (1.077m) and the demo (301k) easily topping MSNBC’s Chris Hayes (842k/193k). AC 360 was the highest-rated CNN primetime news program. AC 360 grew +69% in total viewers and +49% in the demo compared to last year. CNN has now topped MSNBC in total viewers for the fifth straight month and in the demo for the 20th consecutive month at 8p.
• CNN Tonight with Don Lemon ranked #2 in the demo (228k), topping MSNBC (206k). CNN has now beaten MSNBC at 10pm for the 20th straight month in the important key demo 25-54. The Lemon-led program was up +45% in total viewers and +30% among 25-54 vs. last year.

Saturdays:
• New Day Saturday ranked #2 in both the 7a and 8a hours in total viewers. MSNBC ranked 4th and 3rd respectively.
• Smerconish (9am) ranked #2 in total viewers (694k vs. MSNBC’s 392k), growing +16% and among 25-54 (168k vs. MSNBC’s 97k), up +9% vs. a year ago.
• CNN Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield ranked #2 on Saturday afternoons, easily topping MSNBC in both total viewers and in the demo.
• CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow ranked #2 during the 3-6pm hours in total viewers in February.

Sundays:
• Inside Politics with John King (8-9a) ranked #2 in both total viewers (689k) and the demo (199k). MSNBC ranked 3rd among total viewers and 4th in the demo. The Sunday, 8a hour grew +60% in total viewers and +63% in the demo from last year.
• State of the Union with Jake Tapper ranked #2 on Sundays at 9am increasing an impressive +92% in total viewers (837k) and +116% among adults 25-54 (238k). SOTU was #1 at noon in the key demo 25-54, averaging 218k, +46% vs. a year ago. The Tapper-led program ranked #2 in total viewers (941k) at noon, increasing +51% compared to last year.
• Fareed Zakaria GPS (10am) ranked #2 in total viewers (854k) up +43%, vs. year ago and in the demo 25-54 (224k) up +37%. At 1pm, GPS was also #2, averaging 801k, up +43% in total viewers vs. year ago, and 173k among adults 25-54, up +30%.
• Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter (11am) ranked #2 in cable news, growing double-digits vs. a year ago in total viewers (788k, +30%) and in the demo 25-54 (205k, +20%).

Town Halls:
• CNN produced two GOP Town Halls this month, with each one ranking #1 in cable news in their time periods in total viewers and among adults 25-54 and 18-34. The network also had two Democratic Town Halls in February, with the first one ranking #1 in total viewers, adults 25-54 and 18-34 and the one after that, #1 among adults 25-54 and 18-34 among cable news in their time periods.

Debates:
• A combined 8.05 million watched the PBS NewsHour Democratic Primary that was also simulcast on CNN. Among adults 25-54, 2.3 million watched. This was the first time that two networks teamed up to simulcast a debate. The simulcast ranked #1 in cable news in its time period among both demos. (Live+SD)
• A combined 14.3 million watched the CNN/Telemundo Republican Debate. Among adults 25-54, 4.6 million watched. This was the highest ranking primary debate of 2016 among both demos. CNN’s Texas debated ranked #1 in cable news in its time period. (Live+SD)

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