January 2018 Ratings: Unlike Its Competitors, MSNBC Posted Double Digit Year-Over-Year Audience Growth

By A.J. Katz Comment

Few cable networks posted more year-over-year audience growth in 2017 than MSNBC.

What used to be a middle-of-the-road network, ratings-wise, became a perennial top 5 basic cable network in total viewers.

The trend has continued in 2018. MSNBC was the No. 3 basic cable network for Jan. 2018, both in total day viewers and in prime time viewers.

And while Fox News and CNN posted year-over-year audience declines, (primarily due to each network’s coverage of Trump’s inauguration) MSNBC didn’t experience that issue in 2018. The de-facto network of “the resistance” posted double digit prime time audience growth this past month versus Jan. 2017, growing +61 percent in prime time and +55 percent in total day.

The numbers for January, 2018 (Nielsen Live + Same Day data):

  • Prime time (Mon-Sun): 1,862,000 total viewers / 412,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun):  1,001,000 total viewers / 224,000 A25-54

The major ratings story of the month for MSNBC was the performance of The Rachel Maddow Show. TRMS attracted more adults 25-54 than any other cable news show in Jan. 2018. The program averaged 678,000 demo viewers, versus 660,000 from Fox News’s Hannity and the 383,000 demo viewers from CNN.

Maddow also delivered more than 3 million total viewers per original episode, MSNBC’s largest total delivery in the 9 p.m. hour in network history. That said, she came up short to Hannity in total viewers (3.03 million vs. 3.27 million.)

The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell posted double-digit year-over-year growth, and defeated 10 p.m. cable news competition The Ingraham Angle and CNN Tonight in the key A25-54 demo. The 2.35 million total viewers O’Donnell delivered in the 10 p.m. hour in January marks the largest monthly average in program history. But that’s less than Ingraham’s 2.58 million viewer average.

The 11th Hour With Brian Williams won its hour as well, defeating CNN Tonight and Fox News @ Night not just in the A25-54 demo, but also in total viewers.

Then there’s the morning. Mika, Joe & Willie of Morning Joe brought the program to a No. 2 finish behind Fox & Friends, defeating CNN’s New Day not just in total viewers, but also in the A25-54 demo. MJ topped its CNN rival in A25-54 for the 3rd month in a row and in total viewers for the 35th straight month.

Here’s MSNBC’s January 2018 ratings release:

“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” WINS A25-54 ACROSS ALL CABLE NEWS IN JANUARY
MSNBC Weekday Prime Beats CNN in Total Viewers and A25-54
Among All Cable Networks, MSNBC Weekday Prime Finishes #3 in Total Viewers
MSNBC Dayside Dominates CNN in Total Viewers for 4th Month in a Row, Scores Record Month Averaging 1M Total Viewers
“The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” is #1 at 11pm in A25-54 for 3rd Straight Month, #1 in Total Viewers for 9th Straight Month
“The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” is #1 at 10pm in A25-54, Delivers Record Month in Total Viewers
“Morning Joe” Tops CNN in A25-54 for 3rd Consecutive Month and in Total Viewers for 35th Consecutive Month
“All In with Chris Hayes” Bests CNN in A25-54 for 3rd Month in a Row and in Total Viewers for 14th Straight Month
More Viewers Turn to MSNBC Than CNN in Total Day for 11th Straight Month
MSNBC Posts Total Viewer Victory Over CNN Every Hour Weekdays 5am-3am and Saturdays at 10am
NEW YORK (January 30, 2018) – MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” dominated cable news in the key A25-54 demographic for the 1st month of 2018, finishing as the #1 show in all of cable news in addition to the 9pm time period in January, according to Nielsen. “The Rachel Maddow Show” averaged 678,000 viewers A25-54 (vs. FOX News’ 660,000 and CNN’s 383,000) and 3,033,000 total viewers (vs. CNN’s 1,081,000) – MSNBC’s biggest total-viewer delivery in the 9pm hour ever. January 2018 marked the 3rd month in a row that “Maddow” won A25-54 across all of cable news.
In weekday prime (M-F 8-11pm) MSNBC beat CNN in A25-54 for the 4th straight month and in total viewers for the 14th straight month. Among all cable networks, MSNBC prime ranked 3rd in total viewers (after ESPN and FOX News – ahead of CNN, which ranked #11). MSNBC averaged 2.4 million viewers, more than doubling CNN’s audience of 1.07 million – the biggest win ever over CNN for that daypart. MSNBC was also the only cable news network to post growth in A25-54 (+65% vs. FOX News’ -16% and CNN’s -7%) and in total viewers (+65% vs. FOX News’ -15% and CNN’s -14%) compared to January 2017.
In addition to prime, January was a record month for MSNBC in total viewers across dayside (M-F 9am-5pm). In dayside, MSNBC beat CNN for the 4th straight month, averaging 1 million viewers – the 1st time MSNBC delivered more than a million total viewers. MSNBC posted more growth than FOX News and CNN combined in A25-54 (+60% vs. FOX News’ -26% and CNN’s +2%) and in total viewers (+58% vs. FOX News’ -26% and CNN’s -5%) compared to January 2017. In total day, MSNBC beat CNN in total viewers for the 11th straight month. MSNBC total day was also the only cable news network to post growth in A25-54 (+45% vs. FOX News’ -17% and CNN’s -4%) and in total viewers (+55% vs. FOX News’ -17% and CNN’s -10%) compared to January 2017.
“The11th Hour with Brian Williams” remained #1 in total viewers at 11pm for the 9th straight month and beat both FOX News and CNN in A25-54 for the 3rd month in a row. “The 11th Hour” averaged 376,000 viewers A25-54 (vs. FOX News’ 351,000 and CNN’s 314,000) and 1,640,000 total viewers (vs. FOX News’ 1,523,000 and CNN’s 850,000).
“The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” won at 10pm in A25-54, besting FOX News and CNN in the timeslot. “The Last Word” averaged 518,000 viewers A25-54 (vs. FOX News’ 504,000 and CNN’s 391,000). January also marked best month ever for “The Last Word” in total-viewer delivery, reaching a record 2,354,000 viewers (vs. CNN’s 1,060,000).
“Morning Joe” beat CNN across the board, topping CNN in A25-54 for the 3rd month in a row and in total viewers forthe 35th consecutive month. “Morning Joe” averaged 242,000 A25-54 from 6am-9am as compared to CNN’s 216,000; in total viewers, the MSNBC program averaged 1,051,000, nearly doubling CNN’s 597,000.
Following victories in November and December 2017, “All In with Chris Hayes” topped CNN once more in A25-54 – its 3rd consecutive monthly win (436,000 vs. CNN’s 401,000). For the 14th straight month, “All In” also beat CNN in total viewers (1,994,000 vs. CNN’s 1,161,000).
Additionally, more viewers turned to MSNBC than CNN for their news. Every hour of MSNBC’s weekday programming from 5am-3am beat CNN in total viewers, including: “Morning Joe First Look” at 5am for the 3rd month in a row; “Morning Joe” from 6-9am for the 35th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle” at 9am for the 12th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson” at 10am for the 4th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Velshi and Ruhle” at 11am for the 4th straight month; “Andrea Mitchell Reports” at 12pm for the 7th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Craig Melvin” at 1pm; “MSNBC Live with Katy Tur” at 2pm; “MSNBC Live with Ali Velshi” at 3pm; “Deadline: White House” at 4pm for the 4th straight month; “MTP Daily” at 5pm for the 9th straight month; “The Beat with Ari Melber” at 6pm for the 7th straight month; “Hardball with Chris Matthews” at 7pm for the 18th straight month; “All In with Chris Hayes” at 8pm for the 14th straight month; “The Rachel Maddow Show” at 9pm for the 56th straight month; “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” at 10pm for the 32nd straight month; and “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” at 11pm for the 18th straight month.
“AM Joy” on Saturdays at 10am delivered a record month and beat CNN in total viewers for the 4th straight month. “AM Joy” posted double-digit growth in total viewers and A25-54 while FOX News and CNN are down in both measures compared to a year ago.
NOTE: January 2018 ratings are based on Nielsen Live+Same data day for 1/1/18-1/28/18. Individual show data represents regular programming only, excluding specials and breaking news.
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