January ’22 Ratings: CNN Is Among Cable’s Top 10 Networks, but Struggles at 9 PM and Sees Year-Over-Year Declines

By A.J. Katz 

CNN had a mixed start to 2022 on the Nielsen ratings front. The network remained among basic cable’s top 10 in average total day viewers, posted primetime growth from the previous month and beat rival MSNBC on weekends and among adults 25-54, both in total day and in primetime. However, CNN is struggling in the key weekday 9 p.m. hour (posting its lowest delivery since July 2015) and has been delivering Nielsen ratings not seen since before Trump took office. CNN posted especially poor ratings relative to Jan. 2021. The network shed -77% in total primetime viewers, -82% in adults 25-54 during primetime, -74% in total day viewers and -81% in adults 25-54 across total day vs. what the network averaged in those measurements in Jan. 2021.

Now to be fair, the substantial year-over-year declines make sense and were expected. It’s worth remembering that last January was CNN’s most-watched month on record, carried by live coverage of the Jan. 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol (CNN’s most-watched day in history), as well as the presidential inauguration. The network also finished No. 1 on all of cable television that month, beating MSNBC and even Fox News.

What a difference a year makes.


On the positive side for CNN, there was some month-to-month viewership growth. CNN grew +4% in total primetime viewers—and +9% in the primetime demo from what was a particularly rough Dec. 2021. In total day, however, CNN did fall -1% in total viewers and held steady among adults 25-54.

The average Nielsen live + same day impressions for Jan. 2022:

  • Prime time (Mon.-Sun.): 633,000 total viewers/140,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon.-Sun.): 493,000 total viewers/101,000 A25-54

On the programming front, The Lead with Jake Tapper topped MSNBC in January at 4 p.m. for the 23rd straight month among adults 25-54. The second hour of The Lead (5 p.m.) also beat the MSNBC competition among adults 25-54, marking nine consecutive months. That said, The Lead fell short to MSNBC in both timeslots when it came to average total viewers.

The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, Erin Burnett Outfront, and Anderson Cooper 360 all beat their MSNBC timeslot competition when it came to adults 25-54 (but not total viewers). AC 360 was also CNN’s top show for the month.

The network’s 9, 10 and 11 p.m. offerings fell short to MSNBC, both in total viewers and among adults 25-54.

For more information on CNN’s viewership info for January 2022, below is the network’s ratings press release:




The Lead with Jake Tapper, The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, Erin Burnett Outfront and Anderson Cooper 360

All Surpass MSNBC among Adults 25-54


CNN is a Top Ten Cable Network in Total Day and Dayside in Total Viewers


Of note:  Last January, TV viewership hit historic highs due to the Capitol Insurrection (CNN’s most-watched day in history), the impeachment and acquittal of a president and the inauguration of a new one.  During that time of unprecedented news, and as a news organization, CNN increased the most.  Therefore, it’s not surprising that this January, cable news viewership is down vs. last year’s record highs.


Competitively, CNN closes out the month beating MSNBC across all dayparts, including Total Day, prime time, dayside, weekends and on Sunday mornings in the key demographic adults 25-54 according to Nielsen data.  CNN also moved past MSNBC in prime time (M-Su) this month in the key demo 25-54 vs. December.  On weekends, CNN outperformed MSNBC for 21 out of 24 hours on Saturdays and 23 of 24 hours on Sundays.


CNN’s latest Original Series Reframed: Marilyn Monroe (four episodes) ranked #2 in its time period and CNN Films’ Carole King and James: Just Call Out my Name ranked #1 across all demos.


CNN is a top 10 cable network (not just news) in total viewers across Total Day (#7) and daytime (#4) this month.


CNN reaches more people in the U.S. than any other news brand across TV and digital among 25-54 (83 million) and 18-34 (40 million). The network has the second largest reach among total people (172 million)*. CNN also reaches the largest cumulative TV audience of any cable news network among both total viewers (55 million) and 25-54 (16 million) and has done so consecutively for all 20 years on record.  In addition to reaching the largest audience, CNN also attracts the youngest audience in cable news in Total Day and prime time.


 January Dayparts


  • In Total Day (6am-6am)CNN easily beat MSNBC in the key demo adults 25-54 (101k vs. MSNBC’s 76k) in January.  CNN has now outperformed MSNBC for the 26th consecutive month in Total Day demo 25-54.
  • In Prime Time (M-Su 8-11pm), CNN outperformed MSNBC this month (142k vs. 134k).  CNN overcame MSNBC in the demo this month vs. December, now ranking #2 in cable news in prime time for 10 of the past 12 months.
  • During Dayside (9am-4pm), CNN outperformed MSNBC for the 95th straight month, averaging (128k vs. 72k) in the demo.  The network also ranked #4 in all of cable (not just news) during the day in total viewers in January.
  • On Weekends, CNN also topped MSNBC in Total Day (6am-6am) in total viewers (445k vs. 329k) and in the demo 25-54 (80k vs. 37k). In weekend prime time, CNN beat MSNBC in total viewers (543k vs. 276k) and adults 25-54 (90k vs. 29k).  All of CNN’s Sunday morning public affairs programs topped MSNBC in the demo 25-54 in January.


January Weekday Program Ratings


  • New Day with John Berman and Brianna Keilar (6-9pm) averaged 356k in total viewers and 59k in the demo 25-54 in January.   Early Start with Christine Romans and Laura Jarrett (5-6am) posted 197k/37k respectively.
  • All CNN dayside programs (9am-4pm) beat MSNBC in the demo 25-54 including CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto (9-11am), At This Hour with Kate Bolduan (11am), Inside Politics with John King (noon), CNN Newsroom with Ana Cabrera (1pm) and CNN Newsroom with Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell (2-4pm).  
  • The Lead with Jake Tapper easily topped MSNBC this month at 4pm  (146k vs. 117k, +25% advantage) now for the 23rd straight month.  At 5pm, the Tapper-led program had a +26% lead over MSNBC’s Deadline: White House (152k vs. 122k) and has now surpassed them for the ninth consecutive month in the demo adults 25-54.
  • The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer (6pm) outperformed MSNBC this month in the key demographic adults 25-54 (143k vs. 127k), posting a +13% advantage. The Blitzer-led program has now outperformed MSNBC for the 23rd consecutive month.
  • Erin Burnett Outfront (7pm) outperformed MSNBC’s ReidOut in January in the key demo 25-54 (160k vs. 143k), averaging a +12% advantage.   The Burnett-led program has now surpassed MSNBC for the 30th straight month.
  • Anderson Cooper 360 (8pm) topped All in With Chris Hayes (171k vs. 153k) in January, now outperforming MSNBC for the 25th consecutive month in the demo 25-54; posting a +12% advantage. AC 360 delivered CNN’s highest rated program in both total viewers (771k) and the demo adults 25-54 (171k) this month.
  • CNN programming at 9pm (includes an extra hour of AC 360, CNN Tonight with Michael Smerconish, CNN Tonight with Laura Coates, Democracy in Peril with Brianna Keilar and Democracy in Peril with Jim Acosta) averaged 619k in total viewers and 149k in January.
  • Don Lemon Tonight delivered 555k total viewers and 125k in the demo at 10pm. At 11pm, Don Lemon Tonight averaged 414k in total viewers and 93k in the demo adults 25-54.



January Weekend Program Ratings


New Day Weekend with Christi Paul and Boris Sanchez surpassed MSNBC in either total viewers and/or the demo 25-54 on Saturdays and Sundays during its time period.  Smerconish topped MSNBC on Saturday mornings at 9am in the key demo 25-54 (93k vs. 46k) and among total viewers (619k vs. 520k). On weekend afternoons/evenings, CNN Newsroom with Fredricka WhitfieldCNN Newsroom with Jim Acosta and CNN Newsroom with Pamela Brown outperformed MSNBC in each hour on Saturdays/Sundays in both total viewers and the demo 25-54. On Saturday’s, CNN Newsroom with Jim Acosta ranked #1 among cable news in the 3-4pm hour among adults 25-54.


On Sunday mornings, all CNN programs outperformed MSNBC in January.  Inside Politics with Abby Phillip (8am) topped MSNBC in the demo; while State of the Union with Jake Tapper/Dana Bash (9am, noon), Fareed Zakaria GPS (10am, 1pm) and Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter (11am) all beat MSNBC in both total viewers and the 25-54 demo this month.



CNN Original Series and CNN Films


  • CNN Original Series Reframed: Marilyn Monroe (1/16/22 and 1/23/22) ranked #2 in cable news across all three demos, total viewers (834k), adults 25-54 (108k) and younger viewers 18-34 (13k) during its Sunday night 9pm and 10pm premieres.  The series outperformed MSNBC by triple digits.  And vs. the prior four weeks, Reframed: Marilyn Monroe was up +15% in total viewers.


  • CNN Films: Carole King & James Taylor: Just Call Out My Name (1/2/22 9-11pm) ranked #1 in cable news in total viewers (1.381 million), among 25-54 (135k) and in younger viewers (27k), outperforming MSNBC by triple digits.  Compared to the prior four weeks, the film was up +53% in the key demo, +211% in total viewers and +145% in younger viewers.


(Note: Original Series/Films data represents most recent Live+3 and Live+7 data)



Special Programming 

  • CNN Special Report:  Traffic Stop: Dangerous Encounters (1/30/22 9-10pm) reported by Sara Sidner, delivered 51k among adults 25-54 and  339k total viewers, ahead of MSNBC by +9% and +26% respectively.
  • CNN Special Report: The Fight to Save American Democracy (1/9/22 9-10pm) reported by Fareed Zakaria, averaged 108k in 25-54 demo and 706k among total viewers, ranking #2 in cable news in both demos during the time period.
  • Live from the Capitol: January 6th, One Year Later (1/6/22 8-10pm) anchored by Anderson Cooper and Jake Tapper, posted 218k viewers among adults 25-54 and 1.217 million total viewers.
  • 1/6: One Year Later (1/6/22 8:45-10:30am) averaged 188k among adults 25-54 and 1.055 million in total viewers, ranking #2 in cable news during the time period.
  • New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen (12/31/29 8:00pm-12:30am), delivered 746k in the demo 25-54 and 2.124 million in total viewers, ranking #1 in both demos and in cable news for the time period.
  • NYE Live with Don Lemon and Alisyn Camerota (1/1/2022 12:30-1:30am), had 614k in the demo and 1.455 million total viewers tuning in, ranking #1 in the time period in the demo.
  • CNN Special Report: All the Best, All the Worst hosted by Tom Foreman averaged 107k among 25-54 and 522k in total viewers.


Of note:  Nielsen’s month of January is from December 26, 2021-January 30, 2022


*Multiplatform Reach Source: Comscore Xmedia Total view Audience Analysis Report. Reach includes TV & Digital (computer & mobile). Live +7. Period: Jan-Nov ’21 (average monthly).

Based on P25-54, P18-34 & P2+.