Q1 2015 Ratings: MSNBC Experiences 10-Year Lows

By Chris Ariens 

Despite several marquee shows pulling ahead of CNN in viewers month-to-month, MSNBC had a dismal first quarter of 2015. The NBCU network experienced its least watched quarter in more than seven years in total viewers, and lowest in almost 10 years in the A25-54 demo. MSNBC was down -20% in total viewers and down –38% in the demo vs. Q1 2014.

The ratings for Q1 2015 (Nielsen Live + Same Day data):

  • Primetime (Mon-Sun): 536,000 total viewers / 132,000 A25-54
  • Total Day Mon-Sun): 316,000 total viewers / 85,000 A25-54

In primetime, the loses were even greater: down -22% in viewers and down -39% in the demo. All three primetime shows: “All in with Chris Hayes,” “The Rachel Maddow Show,” and “Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” had their lowest rated quarters in the demo, since they launched.

The loss of viewers during the daytime hours is also staggering. In the demo, which is how the network sells its advertising, the 9a-11a hours had the worst quarter since 1999, the 11am hour had its worst showing since 1998 and the 3pm hour had its worst quarter since Q2 2001.

MSNBC’s press release, which paints a rosy picture for March, is below:


“Morning Joe” Beats “New Day” in Total Viewers in March

MSNBC Primetime Up in A25-54 for the Month

NEW YORK – March 31, 2015 – Many of MSNBC’s core programs saw ratings increases in March 2015, with MSNBC’s M-F Primetime beating CNN in total viewers for the month, and “Morning Joe” beating CNN’s “New Day” in total viewers. “Hardball”, “All In with Chris Hayes”, “The Rachel Maddow Show” and “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” all came in second in total viewers for the month and MSNBC’s primetime (8-11pm et) was up in the A25-54 for the month.

All prime shows including “Hardball” ranked #2 among total viewers for the month: “Hardball” 698,000 (vs. CNN 536,000), “All In with Chris Hayes” 597,000 (CNN 537, 000), “The Rachel Maddow Show” 795,000 (CNN 459,000) and “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” 578,000 (CNN 446,000). This marks the 22nd month for “Hardball” and “The Rachel Maddow Show” at #2. MSNBC’s prime was also up in A25-54 by 4%.

“Morning Joe” beat CNN’s “New Day” in total viewers for the month 338,000 vs. 324,000.

MSNBC also continues to have the most diverse cable news audience, ranking #1 in African-American audiences for total viewers in weekday primetime (M-F 8p-11p), prime (M-Su 8p-11p) and sales day (M-Su 6a-2a). MSNBC ranked #1 among African-American total viewers for the 61st consecutive month in M-Su sales primetime.

These ratings improvements come as MSNBC continues to make changes to its programming, including expanding the topics and issues it covers through its progressive lens, providing more news-focused coverage during its dayside lineup and investing in more original reporting. In February, MSNBC announced that Tom Colicchio will take on a new role as its first-ever food correspondent across all platforms. Earlier this month, MSNBC unveiled a new 1-3 pm show, MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts, and announced that Ronan Farrow and Joy Reid will be major contributors across all of the network’s platforms.