November ’21 Ratings: Murder Trial Coverage Provides CNN with Month-to-Month Demo Growth; Network Still Struggles to Draw Total Viewers

By A.J. Katz 

CNN experienced a mixed November on the ratings front. The network saw another decline in average total primetime viewers, -1% from October. In fact, its 654,000 total primetime viewer average for November represents the network’s smallest delivery in the daypart since 2015. That said, the network did post month-to-month growth in primetime among adults 25-54 (+9%). The network also gained average total day viewers (+2%) and total day viewers from the A25-54 demo (+7%) from Oct. ’21. This month-to-month growth among younger viewers is very likely due to the network’s live coverage and analysis of the Kyle Rittenhouse and Ahmaud Arbery trials. Younger, more casual news viewers tune into CNN during these major events than they do during quieter news cycles.

CNN’s ratings fluctuate more than their competitors, primarily based on the news cycle. When the news cycle is relatively quiet (as it is now), CNN’s ratings suffer. When the news cycle is busy, CNN ratings are great. Needless to say, we’re in a quiet news cycle right now. Maybe ratings will improve next year, with 2022 being a midterms election year. Or perhaps the launch of CNN+ early next year will mean fewer adults 25-54 tuning into the cable news network going forward.

Relative to Nov. 2020, CNN shed -77% in average total primetime viewers, -84% in the primetime demo, -72% in total day viewers and -81% in the total day demo. To be fair, CNN posted record-breaking numbers in Nov. 2020, driven by the network’s coverage of the presidential election. In addition to network-record numbers, CNN was the No. 1 network on all of basic cable among adults 25-54 that month. There was no way the network would going to come close to matching those numbers in Nov. 2021.

After coming up short to MSNBC in the primetime demo in October, CNN managed to move past MSNBC in the primetime demo in November, and has now beat its rival in the key category for 13 of the past 14 months.

The average Nielsen live + same day impressions for Nov. 2021:

  • Prime time (Mon.-Sun.): 654,000 total viewers / 148,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon.-Sun.): 495,000 total viewers / 108,000 A25-54

CNN beat rival MSNBC in the total day demo and on weekends across the board. On the programming front—The Lead with Jake Tapper, The Situation Room with Wolf BlitzerErin Burnett Outfront and Anderson Cooper 360 continue to beat their MSNBC timeslot competitors in the key A25-54 demo. CNN’s Original Series continue to fare well against the timeslot competition, particularly  when it comes to adults 25-54. In fact, Diana (9 p.m.) and This is Life with Lisa Ling (10 p.m.) remain No. 1 in their respective hours among adults 25-54.

For more information on CNN’s viewership info for November 2021, below is the network’s ratings press release:

CNN OUTPERFORMS MSNBC ACROSS ALL DAYPARTS INCLUDING TOTAL DAY, PRIME TIME, DAYSIDE AND WEEKENDS IN NOVEMBER IN THE KEY DEMO 25-54

 

 

The Lead with Jake Tapper, The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, Erin Burnett Outfront and Anderson Cooper 360 Surpass MSNBC in the Demo

 

 

CNN Original Series This is Life with Lisa Ling and Diana Rank #1 in Demo 25-54

 

 

 

(Of note:  All CNN, FNC and MSNBC dayparts and programs are down vs. a year ago which was the November 2020 Presidential Election)

 

In November, CNN outperformed MSNBC across all dayparts including Total Day, primetime, dayside and weekends in the key demographic adults 25-54 according to Nielsen data.  CNN was also a top 10 cable network in total viewers across Total Day and daytime. CNN’s Original Series Diana and This is Life with Lisa Ling ranked #1 in cable news during their respective hours among 25-54.  CNN continues to have the youngest audience in cable news in Total Day and prime time and reaches the largest cumulative TV audience among both total viewers and 25-54, 2021-to-date.  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 Dayparts

 

  • In Total Day (6am-6am)CNN easily beat MSNBC in the key demo adults 25-54 (109k vs. MSNBC’s 79k) in November.  CNN has now outperformed MSNBC for the 24th consecutive month in the Total Day demo 25-54.

 

  • In Prime Time (M-Su 8-11pm), CNN is back on top, beating MSNBC among 25-54 (152k vs. 144k) in November, now for 13 of the past 14 months.

 

  • During Dayside (9am-4pm), CNN outperformed MSNBC for the 93rd consecutive month, averaging 144k vs. 77k in the demo.  The network also ranked #3 in all of cable (not just news) during the day in total viewers in November.

 

  • On Weekends, CNN also topped MSNBC in Total Day (6am-6am) in total viewers (419k vs. 338k) and in the demo 25-54 (78k vs. 39k). In weekend prime time, CNN beat MSNBC in total viewers (545k vs. 325k) and adults 25-54 (108k vs. 34k).  All of CNN’s Sunday morning public affairs programs topped MSNBC in both total viewers and the demo 25-54 during November.  CNN beat MSNBC for all 24 hours on Saturdays and for 22 out of 24 hours on Sundays in adults 25-54 this month.

 

 

November Weekday Program Ratings

 

  • During the 8-9am hour, New Day with John Berman and Brianna Keilar outperformed MSNBC’s Morning Joe among adults 25-54 (94k vs. 86k) for the fourth straight month.  Early Start with Christine Romans and Laura Jarrett (5-6am) delivered 201k total viewers in the time period and 43k in the demo.
  • All CNN dayside programs (9am-4pm) beat MSNBC in the demo 25-54 including CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto (9-11am), At This Hour with Kate Bolduan (11am), Inside Politics with John King (noon), CNN Newsroom with Ana Cabrera (1pm) and CNN Newsroom with Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell (2-4pm).  
  • The Lead with Jake Tapper beat MSNBC this month at 4pm  (173k vs. 120k, +44%) now for the 21st consecutive month.  At 5pm, the Tapper-led program had a +20% advantage over MSNBC (152k vs. 127k) and has now surpassed them for the seventh straight month in the coveted demo adults 25-54.
  • The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer (6pm) outperformed MSNBC in November in the key demographic adults 25-54 (166k vs. 130k), posting a double-digit advantage (+28%). The Blitzer-led program has now outperformed MSNBC for the 21st straight month.
  • Erin Burnett Outfront (7pm) outperformed MSNBC’s ReidOut this month in the key demo 25-54 (181k vs. 140k), averaging a +29% advantage.   The Burnett-led program has now outperformed MSNBC for 28 straight months. Outfront was CNN’s highest rated program in the key demo adults 25-54 this month (181k).
  • Anderson Cooper 360 (8pm) surpassed All in With Chris Hayes (174k vs. 157k) in November, now outperforming MSNBC for the 23rd consecutive month in the demo 25-54; posting a +11% advantage.
  • Cuomo Prime Time with Chris Cuomo (9pm) averaged 791k in total viewers and 173k in the demo adults 25-54.  CPT was CNN’s highest rated program in total viewers this month (791k).
  • Don Lemon Tonight delivered 625k total viewers and 153k in the demo at 10pm. At 11pm, Don Lemon Tonight averaged 448k in total viewers and 118k in the demo adults 25-54.

 

 

November Weekend Program Ratings

 

New Day Weekend with Christi Paul and Boris Sanchez surpassed MSNBC in total viewers on Saturdays and in the demo 25-54 Sundays (6-8am).  Smerconish outperformed MSNBC on Saturday mornings at 9am in both total viewers (628k vs. 546k) and in the key demo 25-54 (83k vs. 64k).  On weekend afternoons/evenings, CNN Newsroom with Fredricka WhitfieldCNN Newsroom with Jim Acosta and CNN Newsroom with Pamela Brown outperformed MSNBC in each hour on Saturdays/Sundays in both total viewers and the demo 25-54.

 

On Sunday mornings, all CNN programs outperformed MSNBC this month.  Inside Politics with Abby Phillip (8am), State of the Union with Jake Tapper/Dana Bash (9am, noon), Fareed Zakaria GPS (10am, 1pm) and Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter (11am) all beat MSNBC in both total viewers and the 25-54 demo in November.

 

 

November CNN Original Series and CNN Films 

 

  • Diana ranked #1 in cable news in its 9pm time period in the key demo adults 25-54 with 171k, FNC followed with 156k and MSNBC had 24k. The series averaged 1.028 million in total viewers and 21k among adults 18-34 overs its six Sunday premiere episodes.  Diana outperformed MSNBC by triple digits in the demo (+613%), in total viewers (+250%) and in younger viewers 18-34 (+425%).  It also outperformed FNC in the demo by double digits +10%.  The series is five years younger than FNC and four years younger than MSNBC and is up versus the prior four Sunday time period averages across all the demos.

 

  • This is Life with Lisa Ling (S8) ranked #1 in cable news its time period (10pm) among adults 25-54 averaging 137k over its six Sunday night premiere episodes, FNC followed with 124k and MSNBC had 37k.  The series has averaged 643k million in total viewers and 20k among 18-34.  The Ling-led series outperformed MSNBC by triple digits in the demo 25-54 (+270%) and among younger viewers (+400%) and by double digits in total viewers (+47%).  It outperformed FNC by double digits in the demo  (+10%). The series is four years younger than FNC and five years younger than MSNBC’s audience during the time period. This is Life is up double digits vs. the prior four Sunday time period averages in all demos (total viewers, 25-54 and 18-34).

 

  • CNN Films: Hunt for Planet B  (11/20/21 9-11pm) delivered 476k among total viewers and 100k among adults 25-54. The film ranked #2 among both demos and outperformed MSNBC by +77% and +285% respectively.

 

(Note: Original Series data above represents most recent Live+3 and Live+7 data)

 

 

November Special Programming 

 

  • CNN Special Report: China’s Iron Fist: Xi Jinping and the Stakes for America (11/28/21 9-10pm) reported by Fareed Zakaria averaged 560k total viewers and 105k among adults 25-54 ranking #2 in both demos for the time period.
  • Being… Chris Christie with Dana Bash (11/15/21 10-11pm) delivered 654k total viewers and 141k among adults 25-54.
  • CNN Town Hall: ABCs of Covid Vaccines (11/6/21 8:30-9am) hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Erica Hill delivered 300k total viewers and 61k among 25-54.
  • CNN Special Report: Trumping Democracy: An American Coup (11/5/21 9-11pm) reported by Jake Tapper delivered 944k total viewers and 204k among 25-54 and ranked #2 among the demo 25-54.
  • The Funeral of Colin Powell (11/5/21 11am-2pm) delivered 775k total viewers and 123k among 25-54 and ranked #2 among both total viewers and adults 25-54.
  • Election Night in America 2021 (11/2 6pm-2am) delivered 783k total viewers and 244k among 25-54. 

 

 

Median Age

In November 2021, CNN’s TV audience is two years younger than FNC and three years younger than MSNBC in Total Day and is three years younger than FNC and four years younger than MNSBC in M-Su prime time.

 

Cable News TV Reach
CNN continues to reach the largest cumulative TV audience of any cable news network so far this year among both total viewers (57 million) and adults 25-54 (18 million), making this the 20th consecutive year on record for the network.

 

Multiplatform Reach:

CNN reaches more people in the U.S. than any other news brand across TV and digital among total viewers (175 million), 25-54 (85 million) and 18-34 (41 million).

Note that Comscore Xmedia data is delivered on a delayed schedule and therefore the above reflects Jan-Sep 2021.

Digital to TV Lift:

CNN Digital viewing added a 1.7% lift (or monthly 9k) to CNN’s P2+ 500k total day TV audience for a total of 509 thousand across platforms in November.

 

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