May 2019 Ratings: CNN Finishes Second in the Demo During Total Day, But Loses Traction in Prime Time

By A.J. Katz Comment

It was a mixed May for CNN in the ratings department.

The good news for the network is that it beat its rival MSNBC in the A25-54 demo -the one valued most by news advertisers- during dayside hours for the 63rd consecutive month, as well as across total day. It also beat MSNBC weekends in the key demo, and earned a top 10 ranking in total day viewers across basic cable (No. 8) for the 17th consecutive month. No small feat.

The not-so-good news is that CNN stumbled in prime time relative to recent months and years, finishing a distant third place behind Fox News and MSNBC in the relevant categories, and dropping out of the top 15 basic cable networks in total prime time viewers altogether.

Compared with what the network averaged in May 2018 , CNN was -9% in total prime time viewers, -16% in total day viewers, 30% in the prime time demo, and -31% in the total day demo this month.

Primary debate season can’t come soon enough for a network which thrives on big event coverage.

The numbers for May 2019 (Nielsen Live+Same Day Data):

  • Primetime (Mon-Sun):  761,000 Total Viewers / 185,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 559,000 Total Viewers / 137,000 A25-54

On the programming side – Cuomo Prime Time is once again CNN’s top-rated news program in both total viewers and among adults 25-54.  Despite finishing a distant third behind Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow in the time period, the Cuomo-led program is the only one of the three to actually grow from a year ago., increasing +11%, while the others are down vs. a year ago.

Here’s CNN’s release:

CNN BEATS MSNBC IN TOTAL DAY AMONG ADULTS 25-54 IN MAY

Tops MSNBC in Dayside Demo for 63rd Straight Month; Longest Streak on Record

CNN Posts Third-Highest May in 11 Years in Weekday Prime Time in Total Viewers

Outperforms MSNBC on Weekends in Demo

CNN Ranks as Top 10 Network in All of Cable for 17th Consecutive Month

 

In May, CNN surpassed MSNBC in total day in the key demo adults 25-54 (138k vs. 134k) and outperformed MSNBC during dayside (9am-4pm) ranking #2 in cable news (146k vs. 113k) for the 63rd straight month, the longest streak on record.  In weekdayprime time, CNN had its third-best May in 11 years (since 2008) in total viewers (905k), just following 2016 and 2017. Onweekends, CNN delivered higher 25-54 audiences than MSNBC in both total day (105k vs. 74k) and prime time (107k vs. 72k), and bested MSNBC for 17 out of 24 hours on Saturdays and for 23 hours on Sunday 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, had the youngest audience in cable news in total day and prime time andreached the largest cumulative TV audience (among both total viewers and adults 25-54) this month.

 

All of CNN prime time programs had their third-best May ratings on record among total viewers this month (following 2018 and 2017). Erin Burnett Outfront (7pm) had its third-highest May on record among total viewers (747k), as did Anderson Cooper 360 (8pm) with 920k, as well as CNN Tonight with Don Lemon (10pm) who delivered 846k in total viewers this May.  Cuomo Prime Time (9pm) is once again CNN’s top-rated news program in both total viewers (946k) and among adults 25-54 (230k).  The Cuomo-led program is the only cable news program to grow at 9pm, increasing +11%, while the others are down vs. a year ago. This is the overall network’s third-highest May at 9pm since 2008 in total viewers.  CNN’s morning news program New Day with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman (6-9amhad its third-highest May on record among both total viewers (485k) and in the demo adults 25-54 (136k), after 2018 and 2017.

 

Key CNN Programs Surpass MSNBC:

Other CNN programs including Early Start with Christine Romans and Dave BriggsCNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto, At This Hour with Kate Bolduan, Inside Politics with John King (weekday), CNN Right Now with Brianna Keilar, CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin, The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer (5 and 6pm) all easily surpassed MSNBC this month, posting higher demo 25-54 audiences.  On Saturdays,  New Day Sat, Smerconish, CNN Newsroom with Fedricka Whitfield/Ana CabreraS.E. Cupp Unfilteredand The Van Jones Show all topped MSNBC in the key demo 25-54.  And on Sunday mornings, New Day Sun, 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 Original Series Highlights:

 

  •  Chasing Life with Dr. Sanjay Gupta (4/13/19-5/18/19, Saturdays 9pm & 10pm) ranked #2 in cable news in both demos 25-54 (128k) and 18-34 (26k) across the full season, topping MSNBC.  Among the key demographic adults 25-54, the series was up +62% vs. MSNBC in the time period.  Versus the prior four Saturdays in the time period, the Gupta-led series posted the largest growth in cable news, increasing +31% in total viewers and +5% in the demo 25-54.

 

  • The Redemption Project with Van Jones  (4/28/19-5/26/19, Sundays 9pm) ranked #2 in cable news in the key demo 25-54 and #1 in the time period in younger viewers (18-34).   The Jones-led series delivered 113k among 25-54, 442k in total viewers and 34k among 18-34 across episodes 1-5. The Redemption Project outperformed MSNBC by double-digits in the demo 25-54 (+82%) in its time period so far this season.

 

  • United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell (Season 4) (4/28/19-5/26/19, Sundays 10pm) ranked #2 in the time period in the key demos 25-54 and 18-34 across cable news.  So far this season, the Bell-led series delivered 192k in 25-54, 541k among total viewers, and 31k in 18-34.  United Shades outperformed MSNBC by triple digits among 25-54 (+231%) and 18-34 (+244%) and was up vs. CNN’s prior four Sundays average among adults 25-54 (+36%).

 

All of Cable:  Among all cable networks, CNN ranked #8 this month, marking the 17th consecutive month that CNN is a Top 10 cable network among total viewers in total day.

Median Age:  CNN attracted an audience that is one year younger than Fox News and three years younger than MSNBC in total day and prime. 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:  2Q 2019-to-date in total day, CNN is averaging a +8.4% lift (+12k) among adults 25-54.

 

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

 

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