Q2 2019 Ratings: MSNBC Remains One of Most-Watched Networks on Cable, but Saw a Key Program Slip

By A.J. Katz Comment

MSNBC was, once again, one of the most-watched networks on cable television this quarter. It ranked No. 2 to be exact, only behind a network named Fox News.

The network’s programming continues to deliver huge total audiences, and is led by Rachel Maddow, who finished Q2 2019 as host of the third-most-watched cable news program. However, her show lost some A25-54 viewers, a demographic that was pivotal to her record-setting win last quarter.

A more extensive cable news program ranker will be posted tomorrow.

MSNBC is touting the fact that it delivered larger total audiences than CNN across total day for the 9th consecutive quarter (930,000 vs. 658,000). It also defeated CNN in total viewers during the dayside hours (Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.) for the 8th consecutive quarter.

Compared to 2nd quarter of 2018, MSNBC was the only cable news network to grow among total viewers in dayside (+2%), and beat CNN in the prime time demo for the 8th time in the past 9 quarters (373,000 vs. 188,000). Interestingly, the two networks averaged the same number of A25-54 viewers in prime time Q2 2018 (302,000).

But that’s basically where the positives end. MSNBC was down in key audience categories vs. Q2 2018.

The network was -4% in total prime time viewers, -3% in total day viewers, but it was also a whopping -27% in the prime time demo and -32% in the total day demo vs. Q2 of 2018, a midterms year (although the midterms didn’t actually take place until Q4).

The network finished behind CNN in the A25-54 demo across total day (6 a.m. – 6 a.m.).

NBCU’s politics-fueled network continues to draw large audiences, but it is losing steam in the news demo. Will 25-54-year-olds return as we approach the next election? That remains to be seen.

Here are MSNBC’s ratings for Q2 of 2019:

  • Prime time (Mon-Sun):  1,674,000 total viewers / 373,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 900,000 total viewers / 133,000 A25-54

On the programming front – Morning Joe defeated CNN New Day in total viewers for the 17th straight quarter and in A25-54 for the 8th straight quarter.

The 11th Hour with Brian Williams was the No. 1 cable news program at 11 p.m. in total viewers for the 4th quarter in a row.

Additionally, MSNBC’s broadcast of the first Democratic presidential primary debate were the two most-watched telecasts of the 2nd quarter on cable news, with the June 26 debate averaging 5.9 million total viewers, and the June 27 debate averaging 6.7 million total viewers.

Here’s the MSNBC ratings press release for Q2 2019:

MSNBC TOPS CNN FOR 9TH STRAIGHT QUARTER AMONG TOTAL VIEWERS IN TOTAL DAY

MSNBC is the #2 Most-Watched Network Across All Cable in Total Viewers During Total Day (M-Su 6am-6am), Dayside (M-F 9am-5pm), and Prime (M-F 8-11pm)

MSNBC M-Su 6am-2am Surpasses CNN in A25-54 for 1st Time Since 1Q14

“Morning Joe” Beats CNN in Total Viewers for 17th Straight Quarter and A25-54 for 8th Straight Quarter

“The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” Wins at 11pm for 4th Quarter in a Row in Total Viewers

“Deadline: White House” Wins at 4pm for 2nd Consecutive Quarter in Total Viewers, Tops CNN in A25-54

Every MSNBC Program Tops CNN in Total Viewers Weekdays from 5am to Midnight, and in A25-54 with “All In with Chris Hayes,” “The Rachel Maddow Show,” and “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell”

MSNBC Beats CNN in Total Viewers Saturdays and Sundays with “AM Joy” and “PoliticsNation”; Saturdays with “Weekends with Alex Witt,” “MSNBC Live with Richard Lui,” “MSNBC Live with Kendis Gibson” and “Saturday Night Politics with Donny Deutsch”; and Sundays with “MSNBC Live with Ayman Mohyeldin” and “Kasie DC”

1st Democratic Debates on MSNBC Deliver Two of the Highest-Rated Shows of the Quarter on Cable News

MSNBC’s Town Halls with Presidential Candidates This Quarter Bests All of CNN’s Town Halls Among Total Viewers

NEW YORK (July 2, 2019) – MSNBC out-rated CNN for the 9th straight quarter in total day (M-Su 6am-6am), according to Nielsen ratings data for the 2nd quarter of 2019. Across all of cable, MSNBC was the #2 most-watched cable network in total viewers during total day (M-Su 6am-6am) with 900,000 total viewers, dayside (M-F 9am-5pm) with 940,000 total viewers and prime (M-Su 8-11pm) with 1.67M total viewers. This was the 8th quarter in a row that MSNBC beat CNN in dayside. Compared to 2nd quarter of 2018, MSNBC was the only cable news network to grow among total viewers in dayside (+2% vs. FOX News’ -4% and CNN’s -13%). It was also the 10th quarter in a row in M-Su prime. In A25-54, MSNBC beat CNN in M-Su prime for the 8th time in the past 9 quarters (252,000 vs. CNN’s 188,000) and in M-Su 6am-2am for the 1st time since 1st quarter of 2014 (143,000 vs. CNN’s 142,000).

“Morning Joe” at 6am continued to top CNN in total viewers for the 17th straight quarter and in A25-54 for the 8th straight quarter. “Morning Joe” averaged 1.03M total viewers – doubling CNN’s 459,000 total viewers – and 164,000 viewers A25-54, beating CNN’s 125,000.

“The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” was the #1 cable news program at 11pm in total viewers. In total viewers, “The 11th Hour” was #1 for the 4th quarter in a row in total viewers with 1.5M viewers, doubling CNN (vs. FOX News’ 1.39M and CNN’s 592,000). “The 11th Hour” beat CNN for the quarter, averaging 234,000 viewers A25-54 for 9th quarter in a row (vs. CNN’s 165,000).

“Deadline: White House” at 4pm was the #1 cable news program in total viewers for the quarter. “Deadline” averaged 1.38M total viewers (vs. FOX News’ 1.3M and CNN’s 697,000) and 160,000 viewers A25-54 (vs. FOX News’ 208,000 and CNN’s 150,000). Additionally, “Deadline” was the only cable news program in the time period to grow in total viewers compared to 2nd quarter 2018. “Deadline” was up +9% (vs. FOX News’ -6% and CNN’s -16%).

“All In with Chris Hayes” at 8pm beat CNN in both total viewers and A25-54. “All In” averaged 1.55M total viewers (vs. CNN’s 884,000), beating CNN for the 10th straight quarter. In A25-54, “All In” averaged 225,000 viewers (vs. CNN’s 212,000).

“The Rachel Maddow Show” at 9pm bested CNN in total viewers for the 39th straight quarter and A25-54 for the 10th straight quarter. “Maddow” more than doubled CNN in total viewers with 2.56M (vs. CNN’s 923,000). In A25-54, “Maddow” averaged 396,000 (vs. CNN’s 226,000).

“The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” at 10pm beat CNN in total viewers for the 16th consecutive quarter and in A25-54 for the 9th straight quarter. “The Last Word” averaged 2.01M total viewers (vs. CNN’s 823,000) and 280,000 viewers A25-54 (vs. CNN’s 213,000).

Every hour of MSNBC’s weekday programming from 5am-3am beat CNN in total viewers, including: “Morning Joe First Look” at 5am for the 7th straight quarter; “Morning Joe” from 6-9am for the 17th straight quarter; “MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle” at 9am for the 10th straight quarter; “MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson” at 10am for the 8th straight quarter; “MSNBC Live with Craig Melvin” at 11am for the 8th straight quarter; “Andrea Mitchell Reports” at 12pm for the 8th straight quarter; “MSNBC Live with Velshi & Ruhle” at 1pm for the 8th straight quarter; “MSNBC Live with Katy Tur” at 2pm for the 7th straight quarter; “MSNBC Live with Ali Velshi” at 3pm for the 7th straight quarter; “Deadline: White House” at 4pm for the 8th straight quarter; “MTP Daily” at 5pm for the 9th straight quarter; “The Beat with Ari Melber” at 6pm for the 8th straight quarter; “Hardball with Chris Matthews” at 7pm for the 24th straight quarter; “All In with Chris Hayes” at 8pm for the 10th straight quarter; “The Rachel Maddow Show” at 9pm for the 39th straight quarter; “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” at 10pm for the 16th straight quarter; and “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” at 11pm for the 11th straight quarter.

On weekends, “AM Joy” bested CNN in total viewers on Saturdays at 10am for the 7th straight quarter and Sundays at 10am for the 6th straight quarter. “Kasie DC” topped CNN in total viewers on Sundays at 7pm for the 6th straight quarter. “PoliticsNation” on Saturdays and Sundays at 5pm beat CNN in total viewers. Additionally, “Weekends with Alex Witt” on Saturdays at 12pm, “MSNBC Live with Richard Lui” on Saturdays at 4pm, and “MSNBC Live with Ayman Mohyeldin” Sundays at 4pm beat CNN among total viewers. “Saturday Night Politics” on Saturdays at 8pm, which premiered May 4th, topped CNN in total viewers during its May and June airings.

As the 2020 election season heats up, MSNBC’s airing of the first Democratic presidential debate were the two highest-rated shows of the 2nd quarter on cable news, with the June 26 debate averaging 5.9 million total viewers, and the June 27 debate averaging 6.7 million total viewers. Additionally, MSNBC’s live, special town halls with presidential candidates have delivered notable ratings victories. This quarter, all of MSNBC’s candidate town halls dominated all of CNN’s 15 town halls among total viewers. The MSNBC town hall with Sen. Kamala Harris moderated by Lawrence O’Donnell in Spartanburg, SC ranked as the #2 most-watched town hall this quarter after FOX News’ Bernie Sanders town hall. MSNBC’s Sen. Elizabeth Warren town hall moderated by Chris Hayes in Fort Wayne, IN ranked as the #3 most-watched town hall this quarter.

NOTE: 2Q19 ratings are based on Nielsen Live+Same data day for March 28, 2019 – June 30, 2019. Individual show data for the quarter represents regular programming only, excluding specials and breaking news.

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