November 2020 Ratings: CNN Earns Highest-Rated Month Ever, and Is No. 1 on Cable Among Adults 25-54

By A.J. Katz 

There is a lot of good ratings news to report for CNN this month. Benefiting from wall-to-wall, continuing coverage of the 2020 presidential election, and breaking news surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, the network can officially call November 2020 its most-watched month ever, with an average of 2.8 million viewers in prime time, and 1.8 million across the 24-hour day.

Additionally, CNN beat both Fox News and MSNBC in all relevant dayparts among the demographic that matters most to advertisers of news, which is Adults 25-54.

Not only was CNN No. 1 on cable news in the A25-54 demo, but it was No. 1 across all of cable in the 24-hour-day.  The network also earned a rare win over MSNBC in total viewers, both prime time and total day, and despite averaging fewer total viewers than Fox News for the full Nielsen calendar month, since the day after the election (Nov. 4-Nov. 30), CNN has been the most watched cable news network.

So, what do CNN’s November 2020 ratings look like against comparable months? Versus the previous month (Oct. 2020),  CNN posted +14% growth in total prime time viewers, +34% growth in the prime time demo, +29% growth in total day total viewers, and +55% growth in the total day demo. The increased growth in the demos make sense, considering younger news viewers are more likely to watch the news during election months than at other points of the year.

Compared to Nov. 2019. CNN was +180% in total prime time viewers, +297% in the prime time demo, +134% in total day total viewers, and +210% in the total day demo.

Versus Nov. 2016 (the month of the most-recent presidential election), CNN posted +83% growth in total prime time viewers, +56% growth in the prime time demo, +79% growth in total day total viewers, and +61% growth in total day demo. In this case, seeing less growth among the demo than among older viewers makes sense, because younger news consumers are more likely to watch the news on digital (which isn’t measured by Nielsen) in 2020 than they were 4 years ago.

The ratings for November 2020 (Nielsen live-plus-same-day data):

  • Prime time (Mon.-Sun.): 2,802,000 total viewers / 948,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon.-Sun.): 1,781,000 total viewers / 558,000 A25-54

Cuomo Prime Time was CNN’s top regularly scheduled show in November, and ranked No. 5 across cable news among adults 25-54.

Anderson Cooper 360 was No. 2 in the demo at 8 p.m., while CNN Tonight with Don Lemon was No. 2 in the demo from 10 p.m.-midnight.

CNN’s weekday programming from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. all ranked No. 1 in cable news, beating both Fox and MSNBC among adults 25-54.

At 4 p.m., The Lead with Jake Tapper had its highest month on record in total viewers and second highest in the A25-54 demo. The Lead also grew the most at 4 p.m., increasing +91% in total viewers and +103% in the demo vs. the prior November.

Here’s CNN’s press release:

CNN SMASHES RATINGS RECORDS IN NOVEMBER;

HAS ITS MOST-WATCHED MONTH EVER 

 

CNN is #1 in ALL OF CABLE (not just news) in Adults 25-54 in November

 

CNN Beats Fox and MSNBC In Total Day, Prime Time, Daytime in Demo in November 

  

Since Election Day, CNN Is #1 in Cable News in Total Viewers and Adults 25-54;

Has Topped Fox and MSNBC in Adults 25-54 for 27 Straight Days, Longest Streak in 19 Years

 

 

November 2020 was CNN’s most-watched month ever.

 

In its 40 year history, the network has never had a bigger audience than it did last month, when it broke every record for viewership.

 

In addition, CNN was the #1 network in cable news for the month, easily beating Fox and MSNBC in the key sales target of adults 25-54 in total day, prime time and daytime. Among total viewers, CNN was #1 in cable news during the day, and handily beat MSNBC in total viewers in total day and prime time.

 

In ALL of cable television (not just news), CNN was the #1 network among adults 25-54 in November in total day and finished #2 in prime time. In total viewers in ALL of cable television, CNN was #1 in daytime and #2 in total day and prime time.

 

Since the day after the election (11/4-11-30), CNN has been the most watched cable news network. With Americans desperate for the facts, CNN has emerged as the #1 cable news network overall in total day among total viewers. And, among adults 25-54, CNN has been #1 for 27 straight days, the longest winning streak in 19 years, dating back to September 11, 2001.

 

CNN also grew triple digits vs. a year ago, far more than Fox or MSNBC.

 

CNN’s digital platforms are also having record numbers, making CNN the most watched and most used news and information brand in the world.

 

 

 

 

November 2020 Daypart Highlights:

 

Total Day 

CNN had record total day ratings in during the month of November, far surpassing Fox and MSNBC and ranking #1 in cable news in the demo 25-54 for the first time since October 2016.  For the first time since October 2016, CNN topped Fox in total day in the demo 25-54 (560k vs. 417k). And for the first time since April 2020, CNN has topped MSNBC in total viewers (1.787 million vs. 1.599 million) and outperformed MSNBC in adults 25-54 (560k vs. 305k) for the 12th straight month. CNN’s average of 1.787 million total viewers in November is the network’s highest monthly rating on record.  And compared to a year ago, CNN was up and impressive +209% in the demo and +135% in total viewers – far more than either Fox or MSNBC.

 

Since the day after the election (11/4 to-date, 27 days) CNN ranked #1 in total viewers, averaging 1.834 million, Fox followed with 1.613 million and MSNBC had 1.572 million.  Among adults 25-54, CNN was also top rated each day, and overall averaged 572k , Fox had 329k and MSNBC had 297k setting the networks longest winning streak since September 2001.

 

Prime Time

CNN also had historic ratings highs in prime time, ranking #1 in cable news for the first time since August, 2019 with 952k, Fox was second with 844k and MSNBC lagged with 543k among adults 25-54.   CNN also had its most-watched monthly prime time EVER in total viewers (2.821m) and highest since 2003 among adults 25-54 (952k). CNN also had robust growth in prime time vs. a year ago, up a staggering +290% in the demo and +178% in total viewers.

 

In weekday (M-F) prime time, CNN was also #1 in cable news with 1.050 million, Fox was second with 1.021 million and MSNBC was third with 641k in the key demo adults 25-54.   This is the first time CNN was No. 1 in weekday prime time in the key demo 25-54 since August, 2019.  All of CNN’s evening/prime time programs – Erin Burnett Outfront, Anderson Cooper 360, Cuomo Prime Time and CNN Tonight with Don Lemon — had bigger audiences than MSNBC’s prime lineup in the demo adults 25-54 this month.  Compared to last year, CNN was up +270% in the demo and +163% in total viewers in weekday primetime, far surpassing Fox’s growth +96%+40%and MSNBC’s +35%/18% respectively.

 

Dayside

During dayside (9am-4pm), was #1 in cable news in total viewers and adults 25-54.  In total viewers, CNN beat Fox and MSNBC for the first time since October 2002, with CNN attracting 2.017 million, to Fox’s 1.938 million to MSNBC’s 1.612 million.  This is CNN highest total viewer dayside ratings in the 40 year history of the network, and highest in the demo since April 2003. In the demo, CNN was also #1 with 595k, Fox was second 395k and MSNBC was third with 292k.  In ALL of cable (not just news), CNN was #1 in both the demo 25-54 and total viewers for the month of November. CNN had triple digit growth during dayside in November increasing 163% among adults 25-54 and 98% in total viewers, while Fox increased +41%/+5% and MSNBC was up +48%/+13% respectively.

 

Weekends

On weekends, CNN was #1 in total day topping both Fox and MSNBC in the demo (CNN 436k,  Fox 252k, MSNBC 200k) and total viewers (CNN 1.530m, Fox 1.345m, MSNBC 1.047m).  CNN was also up +254% in the demo and +184% in total viewers vs. last year.   In prime time, CNN was #1 in the demo 25-54 with 706k, Fox was second with 398k and MSNBC was third with 299k.

 

On Saturdays, CNN was #1 in cable news at 6am, every hour from 10am-10pm and from 11am-6am.  On Sundays, the network was top rated at 6am, 8-10am and every hour from 11am-5am. CNN topped MSNBC for 24 out of 24 hours on Saturdays and Sundays in the coveted key demo.

 

 

November 2020 News Program Highlights:

 

CNN programs including New Day, The LeadThe Situation RoomErin Burnett OutfrontAC360Cuomo Prime Time and CNN Tonight all drew higher audiences than MSNBC in the demo adults 25-54 in November.  CNN’s weekday programming at 11am, noon, 1pm, 2p, 3pm and 4pm all ranked #1 in cable news, beating both Fox and MSNBC among adults 25-54.

 

  • New Day with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman (6-9amhad its highest month on record in November in total viewers (844k) and highest in the demo (207k) since March 2018.  New Day was up double digits vs. a year ago, increasing +42% in total viewers and +46% in the demo, the most in cable news.  Early Start with Christine Romans and Laura Jarrett (5-6am) topped MSNBC in the demo this month (140k vs. 115k), increasing +56% in total viewers and +54% in the demo compared to a year ago.
  • The Lead with Jake Tapper (4pm)  ranked #1 in cable news, beating MSNBC’s Deadline: The White House with Nicolle Wallace and FNC’s Your World with Neil Cavuto in the key demo 25-54.  The program averaged 502k, Fox followed with 432k and MSNBC had 396k.  The Lead had its highest month on record in total viewers (2.098 million) and second highest in the demo (502k). The Tapper-led program also grew the most at 4pm, increasining+91% in total viewers and +103% in the demo vs. last November.
  • The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer ranked #2 in cable news this month, topping MSNBC at both 5pm (537k vs. MSNBC’s 434k) and at 6pm (541k vs. MSNBC’s 464k) among adults 25-54.  The Blitzer-led program has now outperformed MSNBC at 5pm for the 30th consecutive month and posted its second highest total viewer delivery on record (2.122 million).  At 6pm, the program beat MSNBC for the 13th straight month; posting its second-highest total viewer delivery (1.935 million) and demo delivery (541k) on record  Sit Room also grew significantly at 5pm vs. last year, increasing +85% in total viewers and 103% in the demo and at 6pm, was up +92%/+102% respectively.
  • Erin Burnett Outfront (7pm) surpassed MSNBC again this month in the key demo adults 25-54 (586k vs. 491k), CNBC’s new program The News with Shepard Smith averaged 57k. EBOF has now topped MSNBC for 16 consecutive months. November was the Burnett-led program’s highest monthly ratings delivery on record among total viewers (2.142 million) and second best in the demo (586k). The Burnett-led program grew the most in cable news at 7pm among total viewers (+100%) and in the demo (+108%)  vs. last year.
  • Anderson Cooper 360 (8pmbeat MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes for the 11th consecutive month in the key demo adults 25-54 (659k vs. 458k) this month.  This is AC 360’s best monthly ratings on record in total viewers (2.405 million) and the demo (659k).  The Cooper-led program had the highest growth in cable news at 8pm in total viewers (+96%) and among adults 25-54 (+116%) compared to last year.
  • Cuomo Prime Time (9pm) had beat MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show in the key demo (677k vs. MSNBC’s 616k) for the first time since June, 2020. November was the Cuomo-led program’s second highest month on record among total viewers (2.578 million). Cuomo Prime Time was the network’s highest rated program in both total viewers and the demo in November.  The program also had the highest growth in cable news in all of prime time (8-11pm), increasing +105% in total viewers and +129% in the demo vs. a year ago.
  • CNN Tonight with Don Lemon (10pm) topped MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell this month in the key demo adults 25-54 (581k vs. MSNBC’s 481k) now for eight of the past nine months. This month was the Lemon-led program’s best November ratings delivery in both total viewers (1.984 million) and adults 25-54 (581k) on record. Compared to a year ago, CNN Tonight had the highest growth in cable news during the 10pm time period among total viewers (+93%) and adults 25-54 (+123%) vs. last year.

 

 

Brooke Baldwin, Dana Bash, Victor Blackwell, Kate Bolduan, Pam Brown, Ana Cabrera, Jessica Dean, Bianna Golodryga, Poppy Harlow, Nia-Malika Henderson, Erica Hill, Brianna Keilar, John King, Christi Paul, Boris Sanchez, Jim Sciutto, Amara Walker, and Fredricka Whitfield, have all anchored to CNN Newsroom during dayside and/or weekend coverage during November 2020.

 

 

Weekend Program Highlights:

 

  • New Day Weekend with Christi Paul and Victor Blackwell ranked either #1 or #2 in cable news in total viewers and/or adults 25-54 during its respective time period on Saturdays and Sundays in November, growing double-digits vs. a year ago.
  • CNN Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield and CNN Newsroom with Ana Cabrera ranked either #1 or #2 in total viewers and/or the demo adults 25-54 during their respective time periods on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as growing double/triple digits vs. last year.
  • Smerconish (Saturdays 9am) ranked #2 across cable news among both total viewers (1.297m) and adults 25-54 (315k) and had the highest growth in cable news in the time period among both demos (+58%/+92%).
  • The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer aired on weekends throughout November and ranked either #1 or #2 in cable news on Saturdays/Sundays among adults 25-54.
  • Inside Politics with John King (Sundays 8am) ranked #1 in cable news in the key demo 25-54, averaging 299k, Fox followed with 283k and MSNBC had 138k.  In total viewers the King-leg program topped MSNBC (1.234 million vs. 895k).  IP was also up the most in cable news during its time period, up +93% in total viewers and +102% in the demo compared to last year.
  • State of the Union with Jake Tapper (Sundays 9am) was #1 in cable news in the coveted demo adults 25-54 averaging 420k, Fox followed with 329k and MSNBC had 170k. In total viewers, SOTU easily topped MSNBC 1.598 million vs. 962k. The Tapper-led program was up the most in cable news in the time period, increasing +97% in total viewers and +115% in the demo 25-54.  The noon edition ranked #1 in both total viewers (1.851 million) and in the demo (403k), Fox was second and MSNBC was third. SOTU at noon was also up by triple digits vs. last year.
  • Fareed Zakaria GPS (Sundays 10am) easily surpassed MSNBC in both total viewers (1.703 million vs. 1.091 million) and in the demo (403k vs. 198k). GPS also grew the most at 10am compared to a year ago, increasing +98% in total viewers and up +111% in the demo adults 25-54.  At 1pm, the Zakaria led program was #1 in cable news in total viewers with 1.247 million and 242k in the demo 25-54, Fox was second and MSNBC was last.  GPS at 1pm grew by double and triple digits vs. last year.
  • Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter (Sundays 11am) ranked #1 in the 25-54 demo (387k) Fox followed with 371k and MSNBC lagged with 194k. Reliable also topped MSNBC in total viewers (1.669m vs. 1.171m) and in the demo (387k vs. 194k). The Stelter led program about the media was up +108% in total viewers and in the demo compared to a year ago, far surpassing Fox or MSNBC’s growth.

 

 

CNN Original Series:

 

  • CNN’s Original Series This Is Life with Lisa Ling ranked #1 in cable news in its time period for the demo adults 25-54 and #2 for total viewers, averaging 244k in the demo and 885k among total viewers over its two Sunday premiere episodes.  The docuseries outperformed Fox by +44% in the demo and outperformed MSNBC by +221% in the demo and by +63% among total viewers.

 

  • CNN Original Series First Ladies ranked #1 in cable news in its time period, averaging 334k in the demo adults 25-54 and 1.817 million among total viewers over its six Sunday premiere episodes.  The docuseries outperformed Fox by +24% in the demo and by +14% in total viewers and MSNBC +153%/+146% respectively.  So far 2020-TD, CNN’s First Ladies ranks #5 and Windsors ranks #7 among the Top 10 non-fiction Historical series and among the Society & Culture series, United Shades of America ranks #5 in All of cable among 25-54.

 

 

Election 2020 Highlights: 

 

 On Election Day (11/3/20):

  • Across All of TV, CNN’s Election Night in America coverage (8-11pm) ranked #2 among both 25-54 (4.587m) and total viewers (9.410m) and #1 among younger viewers (18-34) with 1.642m tuning in. CNN registered the youngest audience in cable news and among the 3 major broadcast nets (ABC, CBS, and NBC) on Election Night in Prime 8-11pm at 49 years old.

 

On Election Day 5 – Biden Projected Winner (11/7/20):

  • Across All of TV, CNN’s coverage of 2020 Election: Day 5 (prime time 8-11pm) ranked #1 among total viewers (8.840), adults 25-54 (3.510m) and 18-34 (1.089m).
  • More viewers tuned in to watch CNN during President-Elect Joe Biden’s first speech than any other network across broadcast and cable (8:30-9pm), ranking #1 among total viewers (14.696m), adults 25-54 (5.899m) and 18-34 (1.948m).
  • In All of cable, CNN ranked #1 in Total Day and prime time and during the full coverage block (7pm-3am) among total viewers, adults 25-54 and 18-34.
  • 2020 Election: Day 5 was CNN’s 4th most watched day on record among total viewers (4.479m) and 13th best day among 25-54 (1.684m).
  • CNN registered the youngest audience in cable news and among the 3 major broadcast nets (ABC, CBS, and NBC) in prime time on Day 5 (55).

 

Election Week (11/3 –11/9):

  • CNN was #1 in prime time among both total viewers and 25-54 in all of cable news and beat the big three broadcast nets for election coverage; ABC, CBS and NBC.  In Total Day, CNN outperformed Fox and MSNBC in both total viewers & adults 25-54. CNN (3.582m/1.422m) FXNC (3.000m/862k) MSNBC (2.654/667k).

 

 

CNN Special Programming:

 

CNN’s updated special report Fight for the White House: Joe Biden’s Long Journey hosted by Gloria Borger on Saturday, 11/14 (10pm-12am) attracted 438k among the 25-54 demo and 1.839 million total viewers. The program ranked #1 across cable news in the demo and #2 among total viewers.

 

Median Age, Cross Platform and Reach:

 

CNN continues to have the youngest audience in cable news in total day and prime. In November, CNN had its lowest median age in Total Day and M-Su Prime since September 2017. Across platforms, CNN reaches more total people in the U.S. than any other cable news brand across TV and digital.  CNN reaches the largest average monthly cumulative TV audience (among both total viewers and adults 25-54) of any cable news network 2020-to-date, making this the 19th consecutive year on record for the network.

 

 

 

Digital-to-TV Lift:  

 

  • CNN Digital viewing added a 4.4% lift (or 78k) to CNN’s P2+ 1.787 million total day TV audience for a total of 1.865 million across platforms this month. This is the highest month on record for digital average audience and multiplatform average audience.

 

Out of Home Lift:

 

  • 2020-to-date  (through 11/15/20), CNN is averaging a +5% lift (or +50k) among total viewers and a +6% lift (or +20k) among adults 25-54 OOH viewers for a total of 1.164 million and 328k, combined in-home and OOH total viewers and adults 25-54 respectively. 

 

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