October 2018 Ratings: MSNBC Is One of the Most-Watched Networks on Basic Cable

By A.J. Katz Comment

It’s been a really strong couple of years for MSNBC, and the network continues to deliver massive audiences relative to what it was hauling in pre-Trump.

In October 2018, MSNBC ranked as a top 5 basic cable network in total viewers. It held steady in total prime time viewers, and posted +1 percent growth in total viewers across the 24-hour-day vs. Oct. 2017, and it’s on its way to posting the most-watched year in network history (total viewers).

On the downside, MSNBC has been losing some steam among younger news viewers after going on such a hot streak earlier in 2018. Perhaps Trump fatigue is starting to set in?

The network was -19 percent in the prime time demo and -20 percent in the total day demo in Oct. 2018 vs. what it delivered in Oct. 2017. It even suffered a rare defeat to CNN this month among adults 25-54 (though it beat CNN in total viewers for the 13th consecutive month).

The ratings for October, 2018 (Nielsen Live + Same Day data):

  • Prime time (Mon-Sun):  1,575,000 total viewers / 281,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun):  909,000 total viewers / 161,000 A25-54

On the programming front – Morning Joe continues to dominate its CNN competition across the board. It averaged more total viewers for the 44th consecutive month, and topped CNN for the 12th consecutive month among adults 25-54, the go-to demo for news advertisers.

The Rachel Maddow Show, despite falling out of the top 5 for October, still delivered monster numbers. TRMS beat CNN in the key demo for the 21st consecutive month, and in total viewers for the 65th consecutive month.

Here’s MSNBC’s October 2018 release:

MSNBC ON TRACK FOR 3RD STRAIGHT RECORD YEAR, DELIVERS YEAR-OVER-YEAR TOTAL VIEWER GROWTH ACROSS PRIME, DAYSIDE AND TOTAL DAY

In October, MSNBC Beat CNN in Total Viewers Across Prime (M-F 8-11pm), Dayside (M-F 9am-5pm), and Total Day (M-Su 6am-6am) for the 13th Consecutive Month

MSNBC is #2 Across All Cable TV for Prime, Dayside, and Total Day Year-To-Date

MSNBC Achieves Dayside Growth in A25-54 and Total Viewers While FOX News and CNN Decline Year-To-Date

“Morning Joe” Dominates CNN in A25-54 for 12th Straight Month and Total Viewers for 44th Straight Month in October

“The Rachel Maddow Show” Tops CNN in A25-54 and Total Viewers in October

MSNBC Scores Total Viewer Victories Weekdays Nearly Every Hour from 5am-3am in October

“AM Joy” and “Kasie DC” Best CNN in Total Viewers on Weekends in October

NEW YORK (October 30, 2018) – Year-to-date, MSNBC is experiencing its best year on record – with only two months left in 2018 – by posting total-viewer growth across all key dayparts including prime (M-F 8-11pm), dayside (M-F 9am-5pm), and total day (M-Su 6am-6am), according to Nielsen ratings data for January 1-October 28, 2018. In prime, MSNBC was up +10% (vs. CNN’s -6% and FOX News’ +4%). MSNBC was the only cable news network to grow in dayside (up +17% vs. CNN’s -9% and FOX News’ -9%) and total day (up +11% vs. CNN’s -10% and FOX News’ -4%) year-to-date compared to the same period last year. Additionally, MSNBC was the only cable news network on track to post year-over-year growth in A25-54 in dayside, up +7% (vs. CNN’s -16% and FOX News -14%).

Year-to-date across all cable television, MSNBC ranked #2 in total viewers in prime, dayside, and total day. In prime, MSNBC topped #3 ESPN and #9 CNN; in dayside, MSNBC bested #3 Nickelodeon and #4 CNN; and in total day, MSNBC beat #4 HGTV and #7 CNN.

For the month of October, MSNBC beat CNN in total viewers across prime, dayside, and total day. In prime, MSNBC topped CNN in total viewers for the 23rd straight month and in A25-54 for the 13th straight month. In dayside, MSNBC beat CNN in total viewers for the 13th straight month, and was up +7% over October 2017 while CNN was flat. MSNBC dayside ranked #2 in the daypart across all cable, ahead of #3 Nickelodeon and #4 CNN. In total day, MSNBC bested CNN for the 20th straight month, and was up +1% over October 2017 while CNN declined -5%.

“Morning Joe” at 6am continued to dominate CNN in both A25-54 and total viewers in October. In total viewers, “Morning Joe” beat CNN for the 44th straight month, almost doubling CNN with an average of 982,000 total viewers (vs. CNN’s 541,000). In A25-54, “Morning Joe” topped CNN for the 12th straight month, averaging 196,000 viewers (vs. CNN’s 167,000).

MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” at 9pm beat CNN in A25-54 and total viewers for the month of October. “Maddow” topped CNN in A25-54 for the 21st consecutive month (486,000 vs. CNN’s 346,000) and in total viewers for the 65th consecutive month (2.58M vs. CNN’s 1.13M).

Nearly every hour of MSNBC’s weekday programming from 5am-3am scored more total viewers than CNN in October, including: “Morning Joe First Look” at 5am for the 12th straight month; “Morning Joe” from 6-9am for the 44th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle” at 9am for the 21st straight month; “MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson” at 10am for the 13th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Craig Melvin” at 11am (October marked the 1st full month of the program at its new timeslot; it was the 13th straight month for the hour topping CNN); “Andrea Mitchell Reports” at 12pm for the 16th straight month; “MSNBC Live with Velshi & Ruhle” at 1pm (October marked the 1st full month of the program at its new timeslot; it was the 12th straight month for the hour topping CNN); “MSNBC Live with Ali Velshi” at 3pm for the 12th straight month; “Deadline: White House” at 4pm for the 13th straight month; “MTP Daily” at 5pm for the 18th straight month; “The Beat with Ari Melber” at 6pm for the 16th straight month; “Hardball with Chris Matthews” at 7pm for the 27th straight month; “All In with Chris Hayes” at 8pm for the 23rd straight month; “The Rachel Maddow Show” at 9pm for the 65th straight month; “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” at 10pm for the 41st straight month; and “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” at 11pm for the 27th straight month.

Several of MSNBC’s weekday programs posted total viewer growth in their hours while CNN declined. Compared to October 2017, “MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle” was up +1% (vs. CNN’s -9%); “MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson” was up +6% (vs. CNN’s -3%); “MTP Daily” was up +7% (vs. CNN’s -6%); and “The Beat with Ari Melber” was up +11% (vs. CNN’s -7%).

During weekends, MSNBC’s “AM Joy” at 10am beat CNN in total viewers for the 13th month in a row on Saturdays and for the 3rd month in a row on Sundays in October. “Kasie DC,” which celebrated its one-year anniversary in October, bested CNN in total viewers at 7pm on Sundays for the 7th month in a row.

NOTE: Year-to-date ratings are based on Nielsen Live+Same data day for 1/1/18-10/28/18. October 2018 ratings are based on Nielsen Live+Same data day for 10/1/18-10/28/18. Individual show data represents regular programming only, excluding specials and breaking news.

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