July 2019 Ratings: CNN Sees Noticeable Year-Over-Year Drop-off, but Holds Strong as Top 10 Cable Network in Total Day

By A.J. Katz 

It has been a mixed July for CNN in the ratings department.

The good news for the network is that it beat rival MSNBC in the A25-54 demo -the one valued most by news advertisers- during dayside hours for the 65th consecutive month, as well as across total day (131,000 vs. 125,000). It also beat MSNBC on weekends in the key A25-54 demo, and earned a top 10 ranking in total day viewers across basic cable (No. 7).

The bad news is that CNN continues to post more significant year-over-year losses than its competitors, and finished a distant third place behind Fox News and MSNBC in prime time. The network ranked No. 13 across basic cable in total prime time audience.


Compared to its July 2018 performance, CNN was -11% in total prime time viewers, -13% in total day viewers, -32% in the prime time demo, and -32% in the total day demo this month.

The average Nielsen live + same day impressions for July 2019:

  • Primetime (Mon-Sun): 797,000 Total Viewers /  201,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun):  557,000 Total Viewers /  131,000 A25-54

Thankfully for CNN, the Democratic presidential primary debates take place tonight and tomorrow, and if past is prologue, the two-night event, hosted by CNN, will most certainly give the network the ratings lift it’s looking for.

Ratings for these prime time debates will count towards the network’s August 2019 monthly ratings performance.

On the prime time news programming side – Cuomo Prime Time hosted by Chris Cuomo once again ranked as CNN’s No. 1 program in total viewers, while the 10 p.m. hour of CNN Tonight with Don Lemon was the top CNN program among adults 25-54.

Unfortunately, New Day experienced its lowest-rated month in the demo in five years.

On the CNN Original Series front, CNN seems to have found a hit with The Movies (Sundays 9-11 p.m.), which has averaged roughly 1.1 million total viewers and 371,000 A25-54 viewers across four original episodes.  CNN’s newest Original Series ranked No.1 in cable news in the key demo adults 25-54 and No. 2 in total viewers in its time period, topping MSNBC. The Movies is also up versus the prior four Sunday’s time period average, posting the largest growth in cable news across the key measurements: A25-54 (+95%), total viewers (+54%).

Here is CNN’s release:



Tops MSNBC in Dayside Demo for 65th Straight Month; Longest Streak on Record


Outperforms MSNBC on Weekends in Demo


CNN’s Newest Original Series, The Movies, Ranks #1 in Cable News


CNN is a Top 10 Network in All of Cable for 18th Consecutive Month


With the Nielsen month of July ending on Sunday (7/28/19), CNN beat MSNBC once again in total day in the key demo adults 25-54 (132k vs.126k) and surpassed MSNBC during dayside (9am-4pm, 133k vs. MSNBC’s 113k), for the 65th straight month, the longest streak on record.  On weekends, CNN delivered higher 25-54 audiences than MSNBC in both total day (122k vs. 80k) and prime time (200k vs. 91k), and bested MSNBC for 22 out of 24 hours on Saturdays and Sundays among adults 25-54.  All of CNN Sunday morning programs posted more viewers than MSNBC in the key demo adults 25-54, ranking #2 in cable news.


CNN also ranked as a Top 10 network in all of cable this month, had the youngest audience in cable news in total day and prime time, and reached the largest cumulative TV audience among both total viewers and adults 25-54.

Key CNN programs easily surpassed MSNBC in July, posting higher demo 25-54 audiences including:  Early Start with Christine Romans and Dave Briggs (4-6am), CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto (9 & 10am), At This Hour with Kate Bolduan (11am), Inside Politics with John King (weekday), CNN Right Now with Brianna Keilar (1pm), CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin (2 & 3pm) and The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer (5 & 6pm).

Cuomo Prime Time with Chris Cuomo (9pm) was CNN’s top-rated news program in total viewers (963k) and CNN Tonight with Don Lemon (10pm) was the network’s best in the demo adults 25-54 (232k) in July.


On Sunday mornings,  Inside Politics with John King (8am), State of the Union with Jake Tapper (9am), Fareed Zakaria GPS (10am), Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter (11am) and CNN Newsroom all posted more viewers in the key demo 25-54 than MSNBC, ranking #2 in cable news. CNN ranked #1 in cable news from 9pm-midnight on Sundays in the demo 25-54. On Saturdays, New Day Sat, Smerconish, CNN Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield, CNN Newsroom with Ana Cabrera, S.E. Cupp Unfiltered, and The Axe Files with David Axelrod all topped MSNBC in the key demo 25-54; while The Van Jones Show was #1 in cable news in its time period in the demo 25-54.

CNN’s Original Series The Movies (7/7/19-7/28/19, Sun 9-11pm) averaged 371k viewers among adults 25-54, 1.084 million in total viewers and 67k in younger viewers (18-34) across its four premiere episodes so far this season.  CNN’s newest Original Series ranked #1 in cable news in the key demo adults 25-54 and 18-34 and #2 in total viewers in its time period, topping MSNBC.  The Movies is also up versus the prior four Sunday’s time period average, posting the largest growth in cable news across all three demos: 25-54 (+95%), total viewers (+54%), and 18-34 (+116%).


(Of note:  All three cable news networks are down in the key dayparts (total day, prime time, dayside and weekends) compared to a year ago. As an aggregate, the cable news nets are down -20% in Jul-19 vs. Jul-18 in total day and -22% in prime, with Jul-18 ratings being driven by the NATO Summit followed by the Helsinki Summit with President Trump and Putin, Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Mueller’s indictment of 12 Russians for election hacking, the resignation of EPA Chief Scott Pruitt and a House hearing with FBI agent Peter Strzok among other big new stories.)


All of Cable:  Among all cable networks, CNN ranked #7 this month, marking the 18th consecutive month that CNN is a Top 10 cable network among total viewers in total day.


Median Age:  CNN attracted an audience that is two years younger than Fox News and three years younger than MSNBC in total day. In prime, CNN was three years younger than Fox and four years younger than MSNBC. MSNBC is tracking at its oldest yearly median age on record in both dayparts.


Cable News TV Reach:  CNN continues to reach the largest cumulative TV audience (among both total viewers and adults 25-54) of any cable news network 2019-to-date making this the 18th consecutive year on record for the network.


Multiplatform Reach**:  2019-to-date, CNN reaches more people than any other cable news brand across TV and digital and reaches more people ages 25-54 and 18-34 than any other news brand across TV and digital.


Out of Home Viewing:  2019-to-date in total day, CNN is averaging a +7.7% lift (+13k) among adults 25-54.


Digital Lift: CNN Digital viewing added a +2% lift to CNN’s TV audience in July 2019.