October 2015 Ratings: CNN Up +101 Percent in Prime Time

By Brian Flood 

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The first democratic debate of the 2016 cycle nearly gave CNN a prime time win in the A25-54 demo. But the network was just shy of overtaking Fox News for a second month in a row in that ad-friendly demo.

According to Nielsen Live +SD numbers, CNN came within 1,000 viewers of Fox News in the prime time demo. (CNN is claiming victory because the network uses a blended Nielsen metric of Live +SD, Live +3 and Live +7.)

The ratings for October, 2015 (Nielsen Live + Same Day data):

  • Prime time (Mon-Sun): 956,000 total viewers / 293,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 511,000 total viewers / 143,000 A25-54

No matter how they slice it, CNN experienced massive growth compared to October 2014. The network was up +101 percent in prime time viewers and up +59 percent in the prime time demo.

CNN’s late afternoon/early evening lineup of Jake Tapper, Wolf Blitzer and Erin Burnett all finished No. 2 in their timeslots (behind FNC and ahead of MSNBC) and were up in total viewers an average of +4 percent vs. last October.

Anderson Cooper at 8 p.m. was up a whopping +40 percent in total viewers, and up +8 percent in the demo. CNN Tonight with Don Lemon was also No. 2 in its timeslot and showed +6 percent year-over-year growth. Among its original series, programs from Anthony Bourdain and Mike Rowe finished No. 1 in their time period in the demo.

More in CNN’s full release:

CNN #1 in Prime Time Demo for Second Straight Month; First Time in 14 Years

Ranks 2nd in Total Day for 16th Consecutive Month

Network Sees Most Prime Growth in Cable News vs. Last Year

 CNN was #1 in cable news in the prime time demo in October, topping Fox News for the second straight month.  The last time CNN beat Fox News for two consecutive months was 14 years ago (October-November 2001). CNN also beat MSNBC in prime time in both total viewers and the demo. In Total Day, CNN ranked #2 in cable news in total viewers and the demo, ahead of MSNBC for the 16th straight month.  During dayside (9a-4p) CNN easily topped MSNBC by 46% in total viewers (539k vs. 369k) and had a 107% advantage in the demo 25-54 (122k vs. 59k). CNN also ranked No. 1 across cable news in weekend primetime among adults 25-54.

Compared to last year, CNN grew across Total Day and prime time, in both total viewers and demo, easily growing the most vs. Fox News and MSNBC:


CNN Program Highlights (October, 2015): 

  •  CNN’s New Day (6-9a) tied with MSNBC’s Morning Joe in the demo this month (100k). In the last 16 months, New Day has beaten Joe for 15 months and tied once. Across cable news versus year-ago, Fox & Friends was the only program down among both total viewers and the demo, posting the largest and only double digit declines in P25-54 (-14%).
  • The Lead with Jake Tapper (4p) ranked #2 in total viewers (596k) and the demo (129k), growing +5% in total viewers from a year ago.
  • The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer (5p-7p) ranked #2 in total viewers (614k) and the demo (162k), increasing +4% from last year in total viewers.
  • Erin Burnett Outfront (7p) ranked #2 in the demo (178k), easily topping MSNBC’s Hardball (138k).  EBOF grew +3% in total viewers compared to a year ago.
  • AC 360 (8p) ranked #2 in both total viewers (795k) and the demo (210k) easily topping MSNBC’s Chris Hayes (725k/136k).  360 grew an impressive +40% in total viewers, the most growth across cable news in the hour, and +8% in the demo vs. last October.
  • CNN Tonight with Don Lemon (10pm) ranked #2, topping MSNBC (139k vs. 132k) in the demo 25-54. Lemon was up +6% vs. last year.
  • Smerconish (9a) was #2 in its time period on Saturday mornings in both total viewers 545k) and the demo (125k) increasing 11%/13% respectively. Smerconish also ranks #2 at 6pm.
  • State of the Union with Jake Tapper (9a) ranked #2 in total viewers (500k) easily topping MSNBC and among 25-54 (105k vs. MSNBC’s 75k). SOTUalso ranked #2 at noon in both total viewers and the demo 25-54.
  • Fareed Zakaria GPS ranked #2 in both total viewers and the demo at both 10a (621k/135k) and 1p (495k/94k).
  • Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter ranked #2 in total viewers (507k) and among 25-54 (114k).

Democratic Candidates’ Debate:

  •  The October 13th airing of the debate ranked #1 in all of television that day in total viewers, 25-54 and 18-34 among Live+SD.
  • The debate ranked third among all CNN telecasts on record (back to 1993) in total viewers.
  • Among Live+3 data, CNN’s Democratic Candidates’ debate ultimately drew nearly 16 million viewers.

CNN Original Series Highlights (October, 2015):

  •  Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Season 6 to-date (9/27-10/25/15; five episodes): Across cable news in its time period, ranks #1 among both 25-54 and 18-34, outperforming the combined delivery of Fox News and MSNBC in each demo.  Bourdain ranks #2 among Total Viewers and more than triples MSNBC.
  • Somebody’s Gotta Do It with Mike Rowe Season 3 to-date (9/27-10/25/15; five episodes): Ranks #1 in cable news in its time period among both 25-54 and 18-34, outperforming the combined 18-34 delivery of Fox News and MSNBC.  SGDI also ranked #2 among total viewers, more than doubling MSNBC.
  • This is Life with Lisa Ling Season 2 to-date (9/30-10/21/15; three episodes): Tops MSNBC, ranking #2 among both key demos 25-54 and 18-34 on Wednesday nights at 9pm.

Data is a blend of Nielsen Live+SD and the more inclusive Live+3 and final Live+7 data when available.