May 2016 Ratings: CNN Grows Double Digits

By A.J. Katz 

CNN was the No. 2 cable news network for May 2016, in both total viewers and the A25-54 demo. The network was up 33 percent in viewers and up 20 percent in the demo, for total day viewing. In prime time, the growth was even greater: up 55 percent in viewers and up 35 percent in the demo vs. May 2015.

CNN has now outperformed MSNBC in prime time for six consecutive months in total viewers and for 23 consecutive months in the demo. That said, the margin between the two networks appears to be tightening. CNN beat MSNBC by just 67,000 total viewers and 81,000 demo viewers in prime time.

The average impressions for May 2016 (Nielsen Live+Same Day Data):

  • Primetime (Mon-Sun): 891,000 Total Viewers / 288,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 584,000 Total Viewers / 173,000 A25-54

The Lead with Jake Tapper grew 33 percent in total viewers and 15 percent in the news demo. Other total viewer gainers: Erin Burnett Outfront (up 15 percent), Anderson Cooper 360 (up 26 percent), the 9pm time slot (up 36 percent) and CNN Tonight with Don Lemon (up 10 percent). However, CNN did see declines in the 10pm and 11pm hours in the demo, down -11 percent and -6 percent, respectively, vs. last May.

Perhaps the most notable story is the performance on weekends, where CNN topped Fox News and MSNBC on Saturday and Sunday with a 13 percent lead over FNC in total day viewers and 12 percent lead in the A25-54 demo. Fox News still leads in total viewers. On Sundays in May, State of the Union with Jake Tapper at Noon, and Fareed Zakaria GPS at 1pm led their hours in the demo.

CNN Original programs also continue to deliver. United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell is No. 1 in the demo, outperforming the combined delivery of Fox News and MSNBC when it airs. Both Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown and The Eighties attracted the youngest audience on cable news in their time periods, fulfilling a goal set by Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes last year.