November 2020 Ratings: MSNBC Earns Its Most-Watched Month Across the 24-Hour Day In Network History

By A.J. Katz 

November 2020 officially ranks as MSNBC’s most-watched month across the 24-hour day in network history, as it averaged nearly 1.6 million total viewers across the 6 a.m.-6 a.m. daypart.

MSNBC posted more growth in total viewers from November 2016 than CNN and Fox News did. That’s probably because consistent MSNBC viewers have been far happier about the 2020 election result, which resulted in more of a desire to keep watching political news through the month. When compared with November 2016, MSNBC was +99% in total prime time viewers and +116% in total day viewers. The network was +50% in the prime time demo and +55% in the total day demo, which is actually less growth than what CNN delivered. It has been well-documented that despite MSNBC’s ratings rise over these past four years, the network has seen the average age of its audience increase noticeably as well.

MSNBC also posted growth from November 2019.  as expected. The network was +29% in total prime time viewers, +52% in the prime time demo, +32% in total day total viewers and +59% in the total day demo.

The network posted growth from October in the total day demo, total day total viewers, and in the prime time demo. The network was slightly down month to month in total prime time viewers, but that might because Rachel Maddow was out for a good chunk of the month.

On the downside, MSNBC once again finished behind CNN and Fox News among adults 25-54. That’s not a huge surprise. What was more surprising, however, is that the network failed to match CNN in total viewers, both prime time (2.7 million) and total day. Rarely has MSNBC finished behind CNN in total viewers over these past four years. Just a blip? We’ll see.

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

  • Prime time (Mon.-Sun.): 2,660,000 total viewers / 536,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon.-Sun.): 1,589,000 total viewers / 302,000 A25-54

Morning Joe broke a ratings record with its most-watched month ever in the 6-9 a.m. time period with 1.7 million total viewers and topping CNN for the 69th straight month. Morning Joe was also the top-ranked cable news morning show for the weeks of Nov. 9, Nov. 16 and Nov. 23, overtaking Fox & Friends for 3 straight weeks in November (but coming up short for the full month).

The Rachel Maddow Show, The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell, Deadline: White House (hosted by Nicolle Wallace) and The Beat With Ari Melber were among cable news’ 10-most-watched regularly-scheduled shows for November.

Here’s MSNBC’s press release:

 – MSNBC topped previous records and delivered its highest-rated month in the networks’ 25-year history in November, according to Nielsen. Total day (M-Su 6am-6am) and dayside (M-F 9am-4pm) achieved record viewership highs and grew more than CNN and FOX News for the month over the prior presidential election month of Nov. 2016.
Weekday prime (M-F 8pm-11pm) ranked #2 among all cable networks (ahead of #3 CNN, #4 ESPN and #5 HGTV) averaging 3.2M total viewers and topping CNN (3M) for the 48th straight month. In total viewers, weekday prime increased viewership by +91% compared to Nov. 2016. In A25-54, weekday prime achieved its best delivery since Oct. 2012 drawing 642K viewers, a +43% increase compared to Nov. 2016 (vs. FOX News’ +8% and CNN’s +40%).
Total day scored its best delivery ever with a record 1.6M total viewers. Compared to Nov. 2016, total day achieved triple-digit growth (+117%) and grew more than FOX News (-1%) and CNN (+80%). In A25-54, total day posted its best delivery since Apr. 2003 with 306K viewers, a +55% increase compared to Nov. 2016.
Prime (M-Su 8pm-11pm) drew 2.7M total viewers. Total viewership was up +99% compared to Nov. 2016. In A25-54, prime delivered its best performance since Nov. 2008 with 544K viewers, a +48% increase compared to Nov. 2016.
Dayside averaged a record 1.1M total viewers and delivered its best audience performance in A25-54 since Apr. 2003 with 292K viewers. In total viewers, dayside was up +132% (vs. CNN’s +94% and FOX News’ -7%) compared to Nov. 2016. In A25-54, dayside was up +82% (vs. FOX News’ -13%) compared to Nov. 2016.
“Morning Joe” at 6am broke a ratings record with its highest-rated month ever in the timeslot with 1.7M total viewers and topping CNN (845K) for the 69th straight month. “Morning Joe” also ranked #1 in the morning for the weeks of 11/9, 11/16 and 11/23, overtaking FOX News for 3 straight weeks in November. The week following the election (11/9) “Morning Joe” drew 1.6M total viewers – the largest lead over FOX News ever (+248k). This marked the 1st time since 2001 that MSNBC topped FOX News for a full week in total viewers. Compared to the week prior to the election (10/26-10/30), “Morning Joe” increased total viewership by +12% while FOX News was down -27%. In total viewers, “Morning Joe” more than doubled its audience versus Nov. 2016 (+104%), while CNN was up +55% and FOX News’ was -6% compared to Nov. 2016. In A25-54, “Morning Joe” posted its best delivery since Apr. 2003 with 294K viewers, topping CNN for the 37th straight month. The weeks of 11/9, 11/16 and 11/23, “Morning Joe” topped FOX News in A25-54 for the 1st time since 2001. During the post-election week of 11/9, “Morning Joe” increased viewership by +7% while FOX News was down -29% compared to 10/26-10/30. Compared to Nov. 2016, “Morning Joe” was up +42% in A25-54 (vs. CNN’s -17% and FOX News’ -19%).
“The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” averaged 2.5M total viewers dominating the competition again by finishing 1st for the 2nd month in a row (vs. FOX News’ 2.1M and CNN’s 1.4M). In total viewers, “The 11th Hour” increased viewership by +132% compared to Nov. 2016 (vs. CNN’s +33% and FOX News’ +10%). In A25-54, “The 11th Hour” drew 484K viewers beating CNN (454K) for the last 3 months. Compared to Nov. 2016, “The 11th Hour” was up by +73% in A25-54 viewers (vs. CNN’s +13% and FOX News’ -10%).
For the weeks of 11/9, 11/16 and 11/23, MSNBC’s “The Beat with Ari Melber” at 6pm and “The ReidOut” at 7pm finished 1st in total viewers, beating FOX News and CNN. The win marks the 1st time since 2000 the 6pm and 7pm timeslots have both ranked #1 and overtaken FOX News. “The Beat” and “The ReidOut” also beat FOX News in A25-54 for the same 3 weeks—the 1st time since 2001.
The following programs delivered a record-breaking month: “Way Too Early with Kasie Hunt” at 5am; “MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle” at 9am; “MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson” at 10am; “MSNBC Live with Craig Melvin” at 11am; “Andrea Mitchell Reports” at 12pm; “MTP Daily” at 1pm; “MSNBC Live with Katy Tur” at 2pm; “MSNBC Live with Ayman Mohyeldin” at 3pm; “Deadline: White House” at 4pm; “The Beat with Ari Melber” at 6pm; “The ReidOut” at 7pm and “All In with Chris Hayes” at 8pm.
The following programs also beat CNN among total viewers: “Way Too Early with Kasie Hunt” at 5am topped CNN for the 7th month; “MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle” at 9am topped CNN for the 46th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson” at 10am topped CNN for the 7th straight month; “Andrea Mitchell Reports” at 12pm topped CNN for the 5th straight month; “Deadline: White House” at 4-6pm topped CNN for the 41st straight month; “The Beat with Ari Melber” at 6pm topped CNN for the 7th straight month; “The ReidOut” at 7pm topped CNN for the 5th straight month; “All In with Chris Hayes” at 8pm topped CNN for the 5th straight month; “The Rachel Maddow Show” at 9pm topped CNN for the 90th straight month; and “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” at 10pm topped CNN for the 66th straight month.
Weekend total day (Sa-Su 6am-6am) had its highest-rated month ever delivering a record 1.05M total viewers. Weekend total day achieved triple-digit growth among total viewers (139% vs. CNN’s +115% and FOX News’ -3%) compared to Nov. 2016. In A25-54, weekend total day posted its best delivery since Dec. 2008, increasing viewership by a record +68%, while FOX News was down -17% compared to Nov. 2016. Several weekend programs hit total-viewer highs including: “MSNBC Live with Kendis Gibson and Lindsey Reiser” Saturdays and Sundays at 6am; “Velshi” Sundays at 8am, and “AM Joy” at 10am on Sundays.
MSNBC’s election week coverage (11/2-11/8) was the highest-rated week in MSNBC’s 25-year-history, delivering a record shattering 3M total viewers (M-Su 6am-2am), according to Nielsen. In A25-54, election week scored 743K viewers, the highest-rated week since 3/17/03 (the week the Iraq War started). On Saturday (11/7), the speeches of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris drew a record 9M total viewers and 2.5M A25-54 viewers on MSNBC from 8:28pm-9pm, marking the highest-rated program in MSNBC’s history. MSNBC’s special Decision 2020 coverage on Saturday (11/7) topped FOX News every hour from 8am-3am in total viewers and A25-54, including a special edition of “Morning Joe” from 8am-1pm. This was the highest-rated Saturday in MSNBC history and the 2nd highest-rated day ever behind Election Day 11/3/20.
MSNBC digital reach has grown in 2020 increasing viewership by +41% compared to 2019, according to Comscore Media Metrix. MSNBC digital video viewership and engagement has spiked in 2020 with an average of 167M monthly video views marking the strongest year on record and up +47% compared to 2019 in full. MSNBC’s video views within the political news competitive set ranks at #1 throughout 2020 topping CNN Politics by +113% and FOX News Politics by +452% on average. Viewers of the MSNBC political news set watch for an average 45 minutes per viewer, nearly 3x more than CNN (16 minutes) and more than 2.5x that of FOX News (18 minutes).
NOTE: November ratings are based on Nielsen most current data day for 10/26/2020-11/29/2020. Individual show data for the month represents regular programming only, excluding specials and breaking news.

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