MSNBC 2010: Beating CNN for the First Time in Primetime Total Viewers

By Molly Stark Dean 

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MSNBC topped CNN in Primetime Total Viewers in 2010 for the first time ever – pushing CNN to #3 in cable news. And for the second year in a row MSNBC has topped CNN in the advertiser-friendly A25-54 viewers in primetime.

  • Primetime: 764,000 total viewers/250,000 A25-54
  • Total Day: 399,000 total viewers/ 141,000 A25-54

“Countdown with Keith Olbermann” was MSNBC’s top performing show for 2010, coming in at #11 overall in A25-54 viewers and #13 in Total Viewers for the year — but down -25% in the demo and down -11% in Total Viewers compared to 2009. “The Rachel Maddow Show” was 14th overall in A25-54 viewers and 15th overall in Total Viewers, and also down -14% in the younger demo compared to 2009.

MSNBC’s newest show, “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” came ahead of “Maddow” overall in younger viewers, in 13th. The show was the 16th most-watched show overall in Total Viewers. The network’s 6PM show, “The Ed Show,” was #2 in the hour and gave MSNBC its best 6pm performance ever for the 14-year-old network. MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” also gave MSNBC its best 6am-9am delivery but came in #3 in Total Viewers against the competition, and #4 in the A25-54 demo.

  • Other MSNBC highlights in the press release after the jump…


MSNBC Tops CNN in Total Day and Sales Day for the first time ever in A25-54
CNN Hits All-Time Lows at 7 p.m., 8 p.m., and 9 p.m.
NEW YORK – December 20, 2010 – MSNBC ends 2010 on a high note, beating CNN in primetime for the second year in a row among A25-54 and for the first time ever in total viewers, while CNN drops to record lows in primetime.
The following are MSNBC ratings highlights for 2010 (data through December 16, 2010):

MSNBC ranked #2 in primetime and beat CNN for the second year in a row with A25-54 and for the first time ever in total viewers topping them in M-F (P2+:873,000 vs. 641,000/A25-54: 249,000 vs. 186,000) and M-Su (P2+ 765,000 vs. 595,000/A25-54 249,000 vs. 174,000). CNN had their lowest primetime delivery ever in A25-54 and total viewers.

In 2010, “Morning Joe” beat CNN’s “American Morning” among total viewers for the first time ever (387,000 vs. 310,000). “Morning Joe” had the best delivery ever for MSNBC in the 6-9 a.m. time slot while CNN had their smallest audience in the time slot since 2000.

2010 marks the best total viewer performance in the 6 p.m. hour ever for MSNBC, with “The Ed Show” ranked #2 in both A25-54 and total viewers for the full year. Compared to 2009, “The Ed Show” is up +8% in A25-54 and +20% in total viewers, while CNN has dropped –28% in A25-54 and –29% in total viewers. CNN had their lowest 6 p.m. delivery in A25-54 since 1999 and the lowest total viewer average since 2002. “The Ed Show” had 642,000 total viewers (vs. 543,000 for CNN) and 157,000 A25-54 (vs. 149,00 for CNN).

“Hardball with Chris Matthews” at 7 p.m. ranked #2 with A25-54 (172,000) and P2+ (634,000), beating CNN in the hour for the first time ever. CNN delivered lowest A25-54 and total viewers in the hour ever (137,000 A25-54 and 462,000 P2+).
“Countdown with Keith Olbermann” ends 2010 with a huge lead over CNN, rating #2 for the 4th consecutive year with total viewers (1.038 million vs. 527,000) and A25-54 (269,000 vs. 149,000). With the end of “Campbell Brown” and the start of “Parker Spitzer,” CNN hit all-time lows in the hour with both adults and total viewers.

In 2010, “The Rachel Maddow Show” ranked #2 at 9 p.m. beating CNN’s “Larry King Live” for the full year the first time ever among A25-54 (256,000 vs. 177,000) and total viewers (954,000 vs. 676,000). 2010 was the lowest rated year ever for “Larry King Live.”

The combination of “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” and the “Countdown” encore at 10 p.m. ranked #2 in 2010, beating CNN’s live editions of “Anderson Cooper 360” among A25-54 (217,000 vs. 207,000) and P2+ (674,000 vs. 667,000). Since the premiere, “The Last Word” has ranked #2 and topped “AC360” among total viewers and A25-54.

MSNBC placed #2 in Total Day (M-Su 6 a.m.-6a.m.) for the year, beating CNN for the first time ever among A25-54 (141,000 vs. 133,000). MSNBC also topped CNN for the year in Sales Day (M-Su 6 a.m-2a.m.) in A25-54 for the first time ever (146,000 vs. 143, 000).
In 2010, MSNBC is # 1 in delivering African American and Hispanic viewers for the first time ever (M-Su Primetime).

Weekend Longform (Sa/Su 7p-2a) ranked #1 for the first time in a decade.