A destination for breaking news, CNN just completed its best May ever, both in Total Viewers and among the key A25-54 demo. The performance was driven by wall-to-wall coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic, and more recently, breaking news coverage of the police murder of George Floyd, an event which has sparked intense protests against police brutality in cities across America.
CNN set May records in total day and prime-time, as well as in dayside (9 a.m.-4 p.m.). In fact, CNN drew more adults 25-54 in that daypart than any other basic cable network for the second consecutive month.
Among all cable networks, CNN ranked No. 3 in total day and also prime-time viewers in May.
Relative to May 2019, CNN thrived this past month. The network was +177% in total prime-time viewers, +95% in total day viewers. With breaking news luring casual news consumers to its airwaves, CNN’s year-over-year growth was even more noticeable in the demo: +151% in the prime time demo and +116% in the total demo.
The month-to-month trend, however, was less positive. Compared with its April 2020 performance, CNN was -15% in total prime-time viewership, -20% in total day viewers, -20% in the prime-time demo and -25% in the total day demo.
The network also remained in third place behind Fox News and MSNBC in Total Viewers.
The average Nielsen live + same day impressions for May 2020:
- Prime time (Mon-Sun): 1,948,000 total viewers / 580,000 A25-54
- Total Day (Mon-Sun): 1,360,000 total viewers / 395,000 A25-54
In May, Jake Tapper had the top cable news show in the 4 p.m. hour among adults 25-54.
The 5 p.m. hour of The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer had its highest viewership in May on record among total viewers and in the demo.
Erin Burnett averaged her largest May audience ever in Total Viewers, and CNN Tonight with Don Lemon delivered its largest May audience, both Total Viewers and A25-54 audience, ever. This is for the 10 p.m. hour of the two-hour CNN Tonight.
Lastly, Cuomo Prime Time beat 9 p.m. competitor The Rachel Maddow Show in the A25-54 demo for the second consecutive month.
The May 2020 press release from CNN:
CNN HAS MOST-WATCHED MAY EVER
CNN IS THE #1 TELEVISION NETWORK IN ALL OF CABLE DURING DAYTIME IN MAY
Tapper, Blitzer, Burnett, Cooper, Cuomo and Lemon All Have Highest May on Record in Total Viewers
CNN Surpasses MSNBC in All Dayparts in the Demo 25-54
Network Posts Most Growth in Cable News During this Unprecedented News Cycle
Viewers are flocking to CNN in unprecedented numbers to get the latest facts and information during this period of crisis in America. This month was CNN’s most-watched May ever in total day and in prime time among total viewers and among 25-54. In May, CNN surpassed MSNBC in total day in the demo 25-54 for the sixth straight month, and in prime time (M-Su/M-F) for the third consecutive month. During daytime (9am-4pm), CNN was #1 in all of cable and #1 in cable news for the second consecutive month among adults 25-54. This was CNN’s highest daytime in May on record among both total viewers and the demo. CNN has now outperformed MSNBC during daytime programming for the 75th consecutive month, the longest streak on record. On weekends, CNN’s programming outperformed MSNBC for 24 out of 24 hours on Saturdays and Sundays. CNN’s audience grew the most during this busy news cycle across all dayparts and programs by far more than either Fox or MSNBC.
May 2020 vs. May 2019
During the past few days that included the protests and unrest in Minneapolis and across the country (May 26-to-date), in total day CNN averaged 1.538 million total viewers, MSNBC followed with 1.312 million and Fox registered 2.118 million. Among adults 25-54, CNN had 497k to MSNBC’s 232k to Fox’s 422k. In prime time, CNN had attracted 2.503 million total viewers, MSNBC had 2.142 million and Fox averaged 3.675 million. And in the key demo, CNN had 852k, MSNBC had 382k and Fox had 714k.
Among ALL cable networks, CNN ranked #3 in total day and also weekday and M-Su prime time in total viewers this month. CNN continues to have the youngest audience in cable news in total day and prime and reaches the largest average monthly cumulative TV audience (among both total viewers and adults 25-54) of any cable news network 2020 to-date. Across platforms, CNN reaches more total people than any other cable news brand across TV and digital and more people ages 25-54 than any other news brand across TV and digital.
May Program Highlights:
• New Day with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman (6-9am) had its best second May on record in total viewers (634k, after 2017) and third-highest May in the demo (152k, behind 2017 and 2018). New Day was up +30% in total viewers and +11% in the demo vs. last year. Early Start with Christine Romans and Laura Jarrett (5-6am) ranked #2 in cable news and topped MSNBC in the key demo (106k vs. 59k) growing +3% from last year, the only program to show growth vs. year ago at 5am.
• The Lead with Jake Tapper (4pm) ranked #1 in cable news in the demo adults 25-54 (349k) for the second consecutive month, Fox followed with 339k and MSNBC had 247k. This is the Tapper-led program’s highest May on record in both total viewers and adults 25-54. The Lead was up the most in cable news by far, increasing +103% in total viewers and +128% in the demo adults 25-54.
• The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer at 5pm had its highest viewership in May on record among total viewers (1.517 million) and in the demo 25-54 (368k). Sit Room ranked #2 in cable news among adults 25-54, ahead of MSNBC for the 24th consecutive month (368k vs. 220k) while also growing the most in cable news at 5pm, up +99% in total viewers and +120% percent among 25-54. At 6pm, Sit Room averaged 1.360 million total viewers (up +99) and 372k (+116%) in the demo, the highest May on record in total viewers and second highest in the demo adults 25-54. Blitzer anchored special editions of The Situation Room on weekends throughout May.
• Erin Burnett Outfront (7pm) had its highest May on record among total viewers (1.391 million) and second highest in the demo (388k). The Burnett-led program outperformed MSNBC at 7pm (388k vs. 222k) now for the 10th consecutive month among adults 25-54. EBOF was up the most in cable news at 7pm, increasing +86% to Fox’s +41% to MSNBC’s +4% in total viewers and growing +105% in the demo; Fox was up +44% and MSNBC +14%.
• Anderson Cooper 360 (8pm) easily outperformed MSNBC’s All in With Chris Hayes in the demo (463k vs. 276k) now for the fifth straight month. May was also the Cooper-led program’s highest May on record in total viewers (1.713 million) and second highest on record in the demo (after 2017). AC 360 was up the most in cable news at 8pm, growing +85% in total viewers and +110% in the demo. MSNBC was up +13%/+15% and Fox +46%/38% respectively.
• Cuomo Prime Time (9pm) was the network’s top-rated program in May among total viewers (1.948 million) and in the demo adults 25-54 (513k). The Cuomo-led program had its highest ratings in history for the past two months among total viewers. May was also the network’s overall highest May on record at 9pm in both total viewers and adults 25-54. Cuomo Prime Time grew the most in cable news in all of prime this month among total viewers, increasing +104% and had an impressive +120% growth among adults 25-54, far surpassing Fox’s growth (+30%/+27%) and MSNBC’s (+13%/+8%).
• CNN Tonight with Don Lemon (10pm) dominated MSNBC’s Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell for the third consecutive month (503k vs. 329k). May is CNN Tonight’s best total viewers and adults 25-54 May delivery ever. The Lemon-led program had the most growth in cable news at 10pm this month, increasing +75% in total viewers and had the highest growth in all of prime (129%) among 25-54. MSNBC was up only +9% in total viewers and +11% in demo, Fox was up +38%/+44%. At 11pm, CNN Tonight with Don Lemon topped MSNBC’s The 11th Hour with Brian Williams 382k vs. 299k among 25-54.
• Brooke Baldwin, John Berman, Victor Blackwell, Wolf Blitzer, Kate Bolduan, Ana Cabrera, Anderson Cooper, Poppy Harlow, Erica Hill, Brianna Keilar, John King, Christi Paul, Jim Sciutto and Fredricka Whitfield all contributed to CNN Newsroom during dayside and/or weekend coverage this month.
• On weekends, CNN ranked #1 on Saturdays, in the 12pm hour and every hour from 2-7pm, as well as every hour from 10pm-6am. On Sundays, the network was top-rated every hour from 1pm-5am.
• Smerconish (9am, Saturday) ranked #2 across cable news among both total viewers (1.052 million) and adults 25-54 (255k) growing +60% and +49% respectively.
• New Day Weekend with Christi Paul and Victor Blackwell ranked #2 in cable news in total viewers and in the demo adults 25-54 during its respective time periods this month, growing double digits vs. a year ago.
Sunday Morning Highlights
• Inside Politics with John King (8am) topped MSNBC in both total viewers (895k vs. 637k) and the demo 25-54 (212k vs. 102k), The King-led program was also up the most in cable news, +72% in total viewers and +83% in the demo.
• State of the Union with Jake Tapper (9am) ranked #2 in cable news in total viewers (1.130 million vs. MSNBC’s 698k) and adults 25-54 (284k vs. 114k). SOTU was up the most at 9am on Sundays increasing +68% in total viewers and +95% in adults 25-54.
• Fareed Zakaria GPS (10am) ranked #2 in cable news topping MSNBC in both total viewers (1.341 million) and the demo adults 25-54 (305k). The Zakaria-led program grew the most in cable news, increasing double digits in total viewers (+71%) and triple digits among 25-54 (+107%).
• Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter (11am) ranked #2 in cable news in May, ahead of MSNBC among both total viewers (1.293 million vs. MSNBC’s 1.092m) and adults 25-54 (299k vs. 180k). The Stelter-led program grew the most in cable news, increasing +86% in total viewers and +117% in the demo adults 25-54.
• CNN’s global Town Halls, Coronavirus: Facts and Fears, hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, along with health experts, CNN correspondents from around the world and others, have become essential viewing on Thursday nights since the first one aired on March 5th. The Town Halls continue to have robust interest among viewers, averaging 1.373 million total viewers and 334k in the demo adults 25-54 over 13 episodes.
• On 5/31 CNN’s special I Can’t Breathe: Black Men Living and Dying in America anchored by Don Lemon ranked #1 in the demo adults 25-54 with 1.164 million. Earlier that morning, Jake Tapper hosted a special tribute We Remember: A National Memorial Honoring the Victims of Covid-19 to honor those lives lost to the coronavirus pandemic. On 5/15, CNN’s second edition of The Color of Covid hosted by Don Lemon and political commentator Van Jones ranked #2 in the demo adults 25-54 (345k), far ahead of MSNBC in the time period by +68%
• CNN Films: Scandalous: The Untold Story of the National Enquirer (5/17/20, 10pm-12am) premiered at #1 in cable news among adults 25-54 and total viewers. In the key demographic adults 25-54, the film attracted 223k, +182% more than MSNBC’s 79k and +21% more than Fox’s 185k. In total viewers, Scandalous averaged 1.201 million total viewers, +12% above Fox and +141% ahead of MSNBC in the time period.
• CNN Digital viewing added a 1.6% lift (or 18k) to CNN’s P2+ 1.095 million total day TV audience for a total of 1.113 million across platforms in May-20.
Out of Home Lift
• So far in 2020 (through 5/10/20), CNN is averaging a +6.7% lift (or +19k) among adult 25-54 OOH viewers and a +4.5% lift (or +46k) among total viewers for a total of 307k and 1.066 million, combined in-home and OOH adults 25-54 and total viewers respectively.