February 2019 Ratings: MSNBC Continues to Post Year-Over-Year Total Audience Growth

By A.J. Katz 

MSNBC is the second-most-watched network across all of cable television for February 2019, and continued its impressive streak of posting year-over-year total audience growth. The network averaged 1.96 million viewers in prime time in February 2019, +9 percent versus what the network delivered in February 2018 . The network was also +12 percent in total day viewers, year-over-year.

On the downside, the network is skewing older (no offense, Boomers/Greatest Generation!) and younger viewers seem to be leaving the network. This has been especially true outside of the prime time daypart.

Compared with February 2018, MSNBC was -14 percent in the prime time demo, and -15 percent in the total day demo this past month.


The ratings for February, 2019 (Nielsen Live + Same Day data):

  • Prime time (Mon-Sun): 1,964,000 total viewers /  342,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun):  1,105,000 total viewers /  184,000 A25-54

MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show was the most-watched cable news program among adults 25-54 for the 3rd straight month in February 2019.

But there’s a bit of a catch here. Maddow is No. 1 if we take special broadcasts into account, something TVNewser traditionally has not done. According to MSNBC’s Nielsen data, Maddow averaged 549,000 viewers A25-54, Hannity/Fox News averaged 526,000 demo viewers and Cuomo Primetime / CNN averaged 363,000 at 9 p.m.

However, we take special broadcasts out of the mix, Hannity is No.1 among adults 25-54 in February, and No. 1 in total viewers.

When Hannity is not hosting his program (which is sometimes the case on Fridays), the program is labeled “special,” and traditionally not included in the ratings averages. However, TRMS is not labeled “special,” when Maddow is out and someone is sitting in for her (oftentimes it’s Joy Reid).

So, who is REALLY No. 1? It really depends on how you look at it. We’ll let the networks argue with each other, and you can decide which figures you want to take more stock in.

Let’s move away Maddow-Hannity drama, and hit the rewind button to Morning Joe. MSNBC’s morning news program posted a record month in ratings. The program averaged 1.2 million total viewers from 6 – 9 a.m., more than doubling CNN. Morning Joe has defeated its CNN morning competition in total viewers for 48 straight months and among adults 25-54 for 16 straight months.

Nicolle Wallace and Brian Williams also had strong months. At 4 p.m., Deadline: White House was No. 1 in total viewers for the 3rd consecutive month. The 11th Hour has established itself as the No. 1 cable news show in its timeslot, and has won across the board for three consecutive months. The program also posted double digit year-over-year growth.

For the 10 p.m. hour, The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell finished No. 2, but defeated CNN across the board for the month.

Each MSNBC daytime shows finished ahead of CNN in total viewers from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Here is MSNBC’s press release:


MSNBC Continues to Outrate CNN in Total Viewers by Significant Margins, Ranking #2 Across All Cable During Dayside (M-F 9am-5pm), Prime (M-F 8-11pm), and Total Day (M-Su 6am-6am)

“Morning Joe” Doubles CNN in Total Viewers for the 48th Straight Month with Record Ratings, Beats CNN in A25-54 for the 16th Straight Month

“The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” at 11pm is #1 in A25-54 and Total Viewers

“Deadline: White House” at 4pm is #1 in Total Viewers

“The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” at 10pm Beats CNN in A25-54 and Total Viewers

Every MSNBC Show from 5am to Midnight Tops CNN in Total Viewers

“AM Joy” (Sa-Su 10am-12pm) and “Kasie DC” (Su 7-9pm) Best CNN in Total Viewers

NEW YORK (February 26, 2019) – MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” was the #1 primetime cable news program in A25-54 for the 3rd straight month in February (including all specials), according to Nielsen. “Maddow” at 9pm averaged 549,000 viewers A25-54 (vs. FOX News’ 526,000 at 9pm and 538,000 at 8pm, and CNN’s 363,000). In total viewers, “Maddow” was #1 at 9pm (including all specials), averaging 3.1M (vs. FOX News’ 3M and CNN’s 1.3M).

MSNBC continued to dominate CNN in total viewers across every key daypart and every weekday hour from 5am to midnight. MSNBC dayside (M-F 9am-5pm), prime (M-F 8-11pm), and total day (M-Su 6am-6am) all ranked #2 across all cable television in total viewers. In dayside, MSNBC averaged 1.2M total viewers (vs. CNN’s 811,000) and was up +18% over February 2018 (MSNBC ranked ahead of #3 CNN and #4 Nickelodeon). In prime, MSNBC averaged 2.5M total viewers (vs. CNN’s 1.3M) and was up +9% over February 2018 (MSNBC ranked ahead of #3 HGTV and #4 CNN). In A25-54, prime averaged 440,000 viewers (vs. CNN’s 387,000). In total day, MSNBC averaged 1.1M total viewers (vs. CNN’s 707,000) and was up +12% over February 2018 (MSNBC ranked ahead of #3 Nickelodeon and #6 CNN).

With a record month in ratings, “Morning Joe” at 6am topped CNN in total viewers for the 48th straight month and beat CNN in A25-54 for the 16th straight month. “Morning Joe” averaged 1.2M total viewers, doubling CNN (553,000). In A25-54, “Morning Joe” averaged 223,000 (vs. CNN’s 166,000).

“The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” was #1 in A25-54 and total viewers at 11pm, topping FOX News and CNN in both demographics for the 3rd month in a row. “The 11th Hour” averaged 327,000 viewers A25-54 (vs. FOX News’ 289,000 and CNN’s 269,000), up +1% over February 2018 (vs. FOX News’ -23% and CNN’s -11%). “The 11th Hour” averaged 1.8M total viewers (vs. FOX News’ 1.4M and CNN’s 828,000), up +22% over February 2018 (vs. FOX News’ -9% and CNN’s +5%).

For the 3rd month in a row, “Deadline: White House” at 4pm was #1 in total viewers. “Deadline: White House” averaged 1.7M total viewers (vs. FOX News’ 1.55M and CNN’s 946,000).

“The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” at 10pm bested CNN once again in both A25-54 and total viewers for the month. “The Last Word” averaged 2.4M total viewers (vs. CNN’s 1.1M) and 397,000 viewers A25-54 (vs. CNN’s 340,000).

In February, every weekday MSNBC program from 5am-3am topped CNN in total viewers, including: “Morning Joe First Look” at 5am for the 16th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle” at 9am for the 25th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson” at 10am for the 17th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Craig Melvin” at 11am for the 5thstraight month; “Andrea Mitchell Reports” at 12pm for the 20th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Velshi & Ruhle” at 1pm for the 5th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Katy Tur” at 2pm for the 4th straight month; and “MSNBC Live with Ali Velshi” at 3pm for the 16th straight month; “MTP Daily” at 5pm for the 22nd straight month; “The Beat with Ari Melber” at 6pm for the 20th straight month; “Hardball with Chris Matthews” at 7pm for the 31st straight month; and “All In with Chris Hayes” at 8pm for the 27th straight month.

On the weekend, several shows also beat CNN in total viewers for the month. “AM Joy” at 10am topped CNN on Saturdays for the 17th straight month and Sundays for the 3rd straight month. “Kasie DC” on Sundays at 7pm beat CNN for the 11th month in a row.

NOTE: February 2019 ratings are based on Nielsen Live+Same data day for 1/28/19-2/24/19. Unless specified, individual show data represents regular programming only, excluding specials and breaking news.