May 2011 Ratings: CNN Sees Across The Board Double-Digit Ratings Increases

By Alex Weprin 

May, 2011 brought double digit ratings increases across the board for CNN, with every single program up substantially compared to May, 2010.

The ratings for May, 2011:

  • Primetime (Mon-Sun): 800K Total Viewers / 266K A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 607K Total Viewers / 218K A25-54

Among the strongest performing CNN programs were “John King USA,” which was up +44% in total viewers and +57% in the demo compared to last year. “JKUSA” also topped MSNBC’s “Hardball” in the demo. Another strong performer was “AC360,” the 10 PM hour of which was up +52% and +89% in total viewers and the demo, and topped MSNBC’s “Ed Show” in both categories. At 11 PM the program was up +64% and +85%.


The weakest performing show was “American Morning,” but even that program was able to increase its viewership by +10% in total viewers and +13% in the demo compared to last May.

CNN’s release, after the jump.



Anderson Cooper 360 Tops MSNBC’s Ed Schultz at 10 pm and is Up 89%; Piers Morgan Tonight Increases 50%; In the Arena Grows 33%

John King, USA Bests MSNBC’s Hardball 7 pm and Grows 56%; and CNN Newsroom Tops Fox News at 12n

CNN Digital continues traffic surge, sets multiple records in May

In May, CNN continued to post significant year-over year-ratings gains and grew more than any other cable news network – increasing an impressive +60% in M-F primetime (279k vs. 174k), +47% in total day (218k vs. 148k) and +36% during dayside (207k vs. 152k) in the key demo adults 25-54 vs. last year. Also in May, CNN topped MSNBC in total day (6a-6a) among both total viewers (607k vs. 477k) and in the key demo 25-54 (218k vs. 169k).

CNN’s coverage during the hour President Obama announced the death of bin Laden ranked as the top non-sports hour across all ad-supported cable networks in May 2011 among both total viewers and key demo. CNN also had its best cumulative audience this month (since the Haiti earthquake in January 2010), reaching 117 million viewers.

While CNN saw a +60% increase in overall M-F primetime in May vs. a year ago (279k vs. 174k), MSNBC was up far less, 26% (294k vs. 233k) and Fox News declined -10% (504k vs. 558k) among 25-54. In addition, each CNN M-F primetime program also saw substantial double-digit demo gains vs. a year ago.

· AC 360 topped MSNBC’s The Ed Show/Docs in the key demo (390k vs. 279k) and among total viewers (1.032m vs. 858k), with MSNBC falling to third place in May. Anderson Cooper also grew the most compared to the other cable news networks at 10 pm vs. last year – increasing a staggering +89% (390k vs. 206k), MSNBC’s The Ed Show/Docs was up 41% compared to a year ago (279k vs. 198k), while Fox News’s On the Record dropped double digits, losing -12% of its key demo audience in May (406k vs. 462k).

Piers Morgan Tonight continued to grow and also increased more than the other cable news networks in the 9 pm timeslot among 25-54 compared to year-ago programming – up an impressive +50% (249k vs. 166k), MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show was up 37% (339k vs. 248k) and FNC’s Hannity was down -6% (491k vs. 520k). In addition, since Piers Morgan launched in January, the show is way up compared to CNN’s 4th quarter average, increasing +58% in the demo (268k vs. 170k) and +29% among total viewers (846k vs. 657k).

CNN’s In the Arena at 8 pm showed strong gains as well, increasing +33% in May (197k vs. 148k), MSNBC’s Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell was up only 6% (267k vs. 253k) and FNC’s O’Reilly Factor was off -9% (636k vs. 700k) in the demo. Since In the Arena launched (February 28) the program is up +62% among 25-54 vs. CNN’s 4th quarter average (219k vs. 135k), while MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell is down -12% since his launch (January 24) vs. Olbermann’s 4th quarter average (253k vs. 288k).

Other CNN ratings highlights for May:

At 7 pm, John King, USA beat MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews in the key demo (245k vs. 210k) with Hardball falling to third place in May. JK, USA also increased +56% in the demo 25-54 (245k vs. 157k) and +44% in total viewers (665k vs. 463k) vs. May 2010, while MSNBC was up only 22% in the demo (210k vs. 172k) and 15% in total viewers (752k vs. 654k).

At 5 pm, CNN’s Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer increased +35% in the demo vs. last year (238k vs. 176k), and topped MSNBC’s Hardball (187k). The program also topped Hardball in total viewers (802k vs. 763k) and increased +33% in 2+ (802k vs. 603k) vs. a year ago. In addition, the Situation Room at 6 pm was up +43% in the demo (243k vs. 170k) and increased +43% in total viewers (760k vs. 532k) and outperformed MSNBC in both categories.

CNN Newsroom’s Suzanne Malveaux-led hour at 12 noon topped FNC (201k vs. 199k) in the key demo and a tight race has developed at 3pm with the Brooke Baldwin-led hour at 3pm posting 208k in the demo 25-54, with Fox News/Shep Smith averaging 209k. CNN Newsroom also outperformed MSNBC every hour throughout dayside (9am-5pm) in both total viewers and the key demo 25-54, posting gains from 26%-43% each hour in the demo compared to a year ago. In head-to-head comparisons with MSNBC’s daytime non-opinion programming, CNN had a +67% advantage in total viewers (676k vs. 403k) and a +66% lead among adults 25-54 (207k vs. 125k).

State of the Union with Candy Crowley on Sunday at 9 am topped MSNBC in total viewers (424k vs. 268k) and in the demo (151k vs. 116k) and again at 12 noon in both categories. Fareed Zakaria GPS at 10 am also topped MSNBC in total viewers (456k vs. 240k) and in the demo 25-54 (149k vs. 99k) and at 1 pm, GPS outperformed MSNBC and grew +22% in total viewers (689k vs. 567k) and +12% in the demo (182k vs. 162k) . Reliable Sources outperformed MSNBC in both categories and was up +33% (603k vs. 455k) in total viewers and increased +47% among adults 25-54 (202k vs. 137k) compared to last May.

CNN reached a cumulative audience of 117 million viewers in May, FNC lagged behind with 94 million and MSNBC averaged 92 million. This represents CNN’s best cumulative audience since January 2010 (Haiti earthquake).