October 2019 was an interesting month for CNN, ratings-wise. The network nabbed a top five spot among total day viewers (No. 4), was No. 7 in total prime time viewers, posted year-over-year audience growth in all relevant dayparts, knocked off rival MSNBC in the key A25-54 demographic, and had its most-watched October overall since the 2016 election year.
Compared to its Oct. 2018 figures, CNN was +34% in total prime time viewers, +12% in total day viewers, +13% in the prime time demo and -5% in the total day demo this past month.
The year-over-year growth is important and worth bragging about. However, the growth in average total audience most certainly came because of one broadcast: The network’s second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 election cycle.
Without the debate, CNN might not have been up year-over-year.
The aforementioned CNN-New York Times Democratic debate, which drove a successful October for the network, drew 8.3 million total viewers. While that may read like a big audience (and to be fair, relative to cable TV programming, it is), the total still represents the lowest-rated debate of the 2020 election cycle to-date.
The ratings for October, 2019 (Nielsen Live + Same Day data):
- Prime time (Mon-Sun): 1,245,000 total viewers / 328,000 A25-54
- Total Day (Mon-Sun): 774,000 total viewers / 190,000 A25-54
On the programming side – Most regularly-scheduled CNN programs were up year-over-year. Some delivered the best October since the 2016 election year.
CNN New Day had its best October since 2017. The Lead with Jake Tapper had its best October since 2016. The 5 p.m. hour of The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer beat MSNBC’s MTP Daily in the key A25-54 demo. Erin Burnett Outfront knocked off Hardball for the third straight month among adults 25-54 and had its best October since 2017.
Additionally, Cuomo Prime Time hosted by Chris Cuomo remained CNN’s most-watched program among total viewers and adults 25-54. It delivered the network’s third-highest October 9 p.m. hour viewership since 2002 in total viewers (following 2008 and 2016).
On Saturdays, CNN Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield was No. 1 in cable news from 12 to 3 p.m. in the demo, as was CNN Newsroom with Ana Cabrera (3-6 p.m.). CNN’s S.E Cupp Unfiltered (6 p.m.) and The Van Jones Show (7 p.m.) also ranked No. 1 in cable news in the demo, topping Fox and MSNBC in their time periods.
Here’s CNN’s October 2019 ratings release:
CNN BEATS MSNBC IN OCTOBER IN TOTAL DAY, DAYSIDE AND WEEKENDS AMONG ADULTS 25-54
Posts Third Most-Watched October Prime Time in 18 Years among Total Viewers
Network Grows Across Key Dayparts vs. Last Year
Ranks as Top 10 Network in All of Cable for 21stConsecutive Month
In October, CNN beat MSNBC once again in total day, dayside and weekends in the key demographic adults 25-54. The network also posted its third most watched October in total day in 17 years (since 2002) among total viewers, just following the presidential election years of 2016 and 2008. In prime time, this is CNN’s third most watched October in 18 years (since October 2001, following 2016 and 2008) and third best in weekday prime among adults 25-54 (since 2008). This month, CNN is up among total viewers compared to last year, adding viewers across key day parts and programs, including prime time.
In total day, CNN outranked MSNBC in the key demo adults 25-54 (191k vs 182k), topping or tying MSNBC for 63 of the past 64 months. The network also grew double-digits compared to a year ago, increasing +12% in total viewers. In weekday prime time, CNN grew significantly vs. last October, increasing +43% in total viewers (1.534 million) and +24% among adults 25-54 (409k), and +31%/+10% respectively during M-Su prime time (1.254 million/331k).
During dayside (9am-4pm), CNN surpassed MSNBC for the 68th straight month in the coveted demographic adults 25-54 (196k vs. 163k), the longest streak on record. The network also grew +4% during the day among total viewers compared to last year. This is CNN’s third-best October dayside ratings since 2001 among total viewers (869k), behind 2002 and 2016. On weekends, CNN outperformed MSNBC in total day and prime time among adults 25-54 in October. In weekend total day, CNN averaged 133k vs. MSNBC’s 100k and weekend prime time, CNN posted 136k vs. MSNBC’s 110k among 25-54. CNN ranked #1 in cable news on Saturdays every hour from 12 noon to 7pm and bested MSNBC for 21 out of 24 hours on Saturdays. On Sundays, CNN was top-rated every hour from 3-9pm, outperforming MSNBC for 23 hours among 25-54 this month.
Among ALL cable networks, CNN ranked #4 in total viewers in total day this month. This marks the 21th straight month that CNN is a Top 10 cable network. During weekday prime time, CNN ranked #5 in total viewers and #7 during M-Su primetime. CNN also had the youngest audience in cable news in total day and prime time and reached the largest cumulative TV audience (among both total viewers and adults 25-54) this month.
October News Programming Highlights:
- New Day with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman was up +7% vs. last year among total viewers (579k) and posted its third-highest October ratings (just following 2017 and 2016).
- The Lead with Jake Tapper (4pm) averaged 1.068 million total viewers, up +9% compared to a year ago. This is The Lead’s second highest October ratings ever among total viewers (behind only 2016).
- The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer topped MSNBC at 5pm (241k vs. 223k), for the 17th straight month and for 23 of the past 24 months. This is the Blitzer-led program’s third highest October at 5pm (1.125 million) and 6pm (1.012 million) on record (behind 2008 and 2016) among total viewers. The program also gained viewers from a year ago, increasing +19% at 5pm and +14% in total viewers.
- Erin Burnett Outfront (7pm) easily beat MSNBC’s Hardball this month ranking #2 in cable news during its hour among adults 25-54 (310k vs. 281k). EBOF has now outperformed MSNBC for the third consecutive month and for 10 of the past 12 months. This is the Burnett-led program’s second-highest October on record among total viewers (1.l45 million, behind 2016) and third highest on record among 25-54 (310k, behind 2016 and 2017). Outfront also grew +24% in total viewers and +4% in the demo 25-54 vs. last year.
- Anderson Cooper 360 (8pm) had its second highest October on record in total viewers (1.221 million), just behind 2016. The Cooper-led program was also up +11% vs. last October among total viewers.
- Cuomo Prime Time (9pm) delivered CNN’s highest viewership in October among total viewers (1.265 million) and adults 25-54 (322k). The Cuomo-led program was up +10% in total viewers vs. last year. Cuomo Prime Time delivered the network’s third-highest October 9pm time period viewership since 2002 in total viewers (following 2008 and 2016).
- CNN Tonight with Don Lemon (10pm) had 1.077 million total viewers this month, the program’s second highest October on record (behind 2016). The Lemon-led show was up +8% in total viewers compared to a year ago this month.
Every CNN dayside (9am-4pm) program ranked #2 and easily surpassed MSNBC this month, posting higher demo 25-54 audiences including: CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto (9 and 10am), At This Hour with Kate Bolduan (11am), Inside Politics with John King (weekday noon), CNN Right Now with Brianna Keilar (1pm) and CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin (2 and 3pm). On weekday mornings, Early Start with Christine Romans and Dave Briggs (4-6am) also topped MSNBC in the demo adults 25-54. All the programs also grew among total viewers vs. last year.
On Saturday mornings, New Day with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul (6-9am) and Smerconish (9am) topped MSNBC in October in the demo 25-54. The Axe Files with David Axelrod (7pm) ranked #2 in its time period, ahead of MSNBC. CNN Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield was #1 in cable news from noon to 3pm in the key demo adults 25-54, as was CNN Newsroom with Ana Cabrera (3-6pm). CNN’s S.E Cupp Unfiltered (6pm) and The Van Jones Show (7pm) also ranked #1 in cable news, topping Fox and MSNBC on Saturdays in their time periods.
On Sundays, New Day Sunday (7am), Inside Politics with John King (8am), State of the Union with Jake Tapper (9am and noon), Fareed Zakaria: GPS (10am and 1pm), and Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter (11am) all surpassed MSNBC in their time periods, ahead by double digits among adults 25-54 and growing in each hour vs. last year among total viewers.
October Original Series Highlights:
- This is Life with Lisa Ling Season 6 (9/29-10/27/19, Sundays at10pm) delivered 698k among total viewers, 209k in adults 25-54 and 45k in younger viewers (18-34) across its five premiere episodes this season. This is Life ranked #1 in cable news topping both Fox and MSNBC in adults 25-54 and 18-34. The Ling-led series outperformed MSNBC by double digital in the key demo, up +96% and +151% among 18-34. Compared to the prior four Sunday time period average, This is Life posted the largest growth in cable news among total viewers (+62%).
- Declassified Season 3 (9/29-10/27/19, Sundays at 9pm/11pm) averaged 520k in total viewers, 138k among adults 25-54 and 21k in younger viewers across its five premiere episodes this season. In its time period across cable news, the program ranked #2 in the key demo adults 25-54.
Cable News TV Reach: CNN continues to reach the largest cumulative TV audience (among both total viewers and adults 25-54) of any cable news network 2019-to-date making this the 18th consecutive year on record for the network.
Median Age: In October, CNN attracted an audience that is three years younger than Fox News and MSNBC in total day. In prime time (M-Su) CNN is four years younger than Fox and five years younger than MSNBC. In M-F prime time, CNN is 4 years younger than both Fox and MSNBC. MSNBC continues to track at its oldest yearly median age on record in both dayparts.
Multiplatform Reach: 2019-to-date, CNN reaches more people than any other cable news brand across TV and digital and reaches more people ages 25-54 than any other news brand across TV and digital.
Digital to TV Lift: CNN Digital viewing added a +3% lift to CNN’s P2+ Average TV audience in October 2019.
Out of Home Lift: Year-to-date in total day, CNN is averaging a +8.9% lift (+15k) among adults 25-54.