Q2 ’18 Ratings: CNN Is a Top 10 Basic Cable Network, But Posts Losses in Prime Time

By A.J. Katz Comment

CNN remains the No. 3 cable news network in total viewers, but it’s still one of the most-watched networks on cable, and continues to stack up especially well against the basic cable competition across the 24-hour day.

Per Nielsen data, CNN had its third-best 2Q since 1996 in total day among total viewers, and among adults 25-54. Only Q2 2017 and Q2 2003 (Iraq War) were better quarters for CNN across the 24-hour day.

Among all cable networks, CNN ranked No. 10 in total viewers in prime time, and ranked No. 7 in total viewers in total day this quarter.  This marks the 8th straight quarter and longest quarterly streak in over 22 years (since Q4 1995) that CNN is a top 10 cable network among total viewers in total day.

CNN was crushed by MSNBC in the prime time demo last year, but the network was able to earn a tie with its rival in the demo this Q2 (302,000 A25-54 viewers). It also defeated MSNBC in total day among adults 25-54 this quarter, and has now outperformed MSNBC for 17 straight quarters in total day in the key A25-54 demo.

But compared to Q2 of 2017, which was, to be fair, the network’s most-watched quarter ever across the 24-hour day (6 a.m. – 6 a.m. ET)., CNN was down in the key dayparts. The network was -12 percent in total prime time viewers, and -18 percent in the prime time demo versus Q2 of last year. It was also -16 percent in total day viewers, and -23 percent in the total day demo from last year.

Below are CNN’s average live-plus-same-day impressions for Q2 2017 (Nielsen data):

  • Prime time (Mon-Sun): 929,000 total viewers / 302,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 658,000 total viewers / 202,000 A25-54

On the programming front , CNN New Day, which underwent a significant change recently with John Berman replacing a prime time-bound Chris Cuomo, is having its second-best Q2 on record, both among total viewers and in the key A25-54 demo. Only 2017 has been better for New Day. The same is true for The Lead with Jake Tapper, Erin Burnett Outfront, the 8 p.m. edition of Anderson Cooper 360, and CNN Tonight with Don Lemon (10 p.m.).

Cuomo Prime Time launched on June 4 averaged 1.12 million total viewers and 367,000 A25-54 for the month of June. Versus the prior four weeks, the Chris Cuomo-led program is +34 percent in total viewers and +36 percent in the key demo 25-54, but still sits third behind cable news’s signature personalities Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow.

Last, but not from least, was CNN’s original programming, led by the late Anthony Bourdain. Season 11 of Parts Unknown averaged 1.17 million total viewers and 484,000 among adults 25-54 this quarter. Every episode this season was No.1 in its time period among adults 25-54.

United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell was also No. 1 in its time period among adults 25-54.

Here’s a lot more from CNN’s release:

 CNN HAS THIRD-BEST 2Q IN 23 YEARS

BEATS MSNBC FOR 17th STRAIGHT QUARTER IN KEY DEMO

New Day, The Lead with Jake Tapper, Erin Burnett Outfront, Anderson Cooper 360 and
CNN Tonight with Don Lemon All Have Second-Highest 2Q on Record

CNN Ranks as a Top 10 Network in All of Cable for Eighth Quarter

Cuomo Prime Time is CNN’s Highest News Program in June;
Up +36% Among Adults 25-54 & +34% Among Total Viewers

SECOND QUARTER 2018:

With the second quarter 2018 ending on Sunday, CNN closed out the quarter with near record-high viewership in both total viewers and adults 25-54. CNN had its third-best 2Q in 23 years (since 1996) in total day among total viewers (663k) and among adults 25-54 (204k) – just after 2017 (Pres. Trump’s first year) and 2003 (Iraq War). The network also had its third-highest daytime performance in 23 years (since 1996) in total viewers (706k) and adults 25-54 (190k), also following 2017 and 2003. The morning (New Day) and all of CNN’s late afternoon and prime time programs are also having their second-best 2Q on record in both total viewers and adults 25-54 (just after 2017).

CNN once again surpassed MSNBC in total day and daytime among adults 25-54 this quarter. CNN has now outperformed MSNBC for 17 straight quarters in total day in the key demographic 25-54 (204k vs. 197k), the longest quarterly streak since 2Q 2010. In dayside, CNN dominated MSNBC for the 23rd consecutive quarter among the coveted demographic adults 25-54 (190k vs. 173k).

CNN also topped MSNBC on weekends in total day and prime time among both total viewers and adults 25-54 this quarter. In total day, CNN averaged 630k vs. MSNBC’s 530k in total viewers and 189k vs. MSNBC’s 117k among adults 25-54. In weekend prime time, CNN posted 846k vs. MSNBC’s 649k among total viewers and 266k vs. MSNBC’s 119k in 25-54. On Saturdays, CNN delivered higher demo 25-54 audiences than MSNBC for 21 out of 24 hours and for 24 out of 24 hours on Sundays. CNN ranked #1 in cable news among adults 25-54 on Saturdays from 1-5pm and on Sundays every hour from 9pm-1am.

Among ALL cable networks, CNN ranked #8 in total viewers in total day this quarter. This marks the eighth straight quarter and longest quarterly streak in over 22 years (since 4Q 1995) that CNN is a Top 10 cable network among total viewers in total day.

Second Quarter 2018 News Program Highlights:
• New Day with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman (6a-9a) had its second-best 2Q on record in total viewers (565k) and among adults 25-54 (184k), after 2017.
• The Lead with Jake Tapper (4pm) had its second-highest 2Q on record among total viewers (832k) and adults 25-54 (223k), following 2Q-2017.
• The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer topped MSNBC at both 5pm (235k vs. MSNBC’s 230k) and at 6pm (256k vs. 252k) now for 16 straight quarters. This is the longest quarterly streak since 3Q-2010 at 5pm and since 3Q-2009 at 6pm. The Blitzer-led program also posted its second highest 2Q on record in both total viewers and among 25-54, after last year.
• Erin Burnett Outfront (7pm) had its second-highest total delivery on record in total viewers (858k) and adults 25-54 (291k), following 2017.
• Anderson Cooper 360 (8pm) also had its second-best 2Q delivery on record in both total viewers (996k) and adults 25-54 (317k), after 2017. AC 360 was CNN’s top-rated weekday prime time program in total viewers during the full second quarter, 2018.
• CNN Tonight with Don Lemon (10pm) had its second-best 2Q ratings on record in total viewers (988k) and adults 25-54 (344k), following 2107 last year. CNN Tonight is CNN’s top-rated weekday prime time program among adults 25-54.

Other key CNN programs such as Inside Politics with John King, Wolf, CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin, Smerconish, State of the Union with Jake Tapper, Fareed Zakaria GPS, Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter, Newsroom with Ana Cabrera, New Day on weekends, The Van Jones Show, and The Axe Files all easily surpassed MSNBC this month, posting higher demo 25-54 audiences.

Second Quarter 2018 Original Series and CNN Films Highlights:

• Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown (Season 11) averaged 1.167 million total viewers and 484k among adults 25-54 this quarter. Every episode this season was top-rated in its time period among adults 25-54 and 18-34.
• United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell (Season 3) registered 843k in total viewers and 337k among 25-54 this quarter. The show ranked #1 in cable news among adults 25-54 in its time period.
• CNN Films: American Jail averaged 527k total viewers and 171k among adults 25-54 in its Sunday July 1st premiere. The film ranked #2 in cable news among adults 25-54 in its time period and #1 among adults 18-34.

Second Quarter Tracker by Year:

MONTH OF JUNE 2018:

Cuomo Prime Time launched on June 4 averaged 1.118 million total viewers and 367k among adults 25-54 for the month of June. The Chris Cuomo-led program is CNN’s highest performing news program in both viewers and in the demo. Versus the prior four weeks, Cuomo Prime Time is up +34% in total viewers and +36% in the key demo 25-54.

CNN had its second-highest June prime time delivery in 23 years (since 1995) among adults 25-54 (314k).

Other monthly highlights include:

• CNN beat MSNBC in total day demo 25-54 for the 48th straight month (191k vs. 182k), the longest monthly streak since January 2010.
• CNN has second highest dayside (9am-4pm) delivery since 1996 among both adults 25-54 (174k) and total viewers (661k), following 2017 and 2016.
• CNN beat MSNBC dayside for the 52nd straight month (174k vs. 159k), the longest monthly streak on record.
• Ranks #1 in weekend (Sat/Sun) prime time among adults 25-54 (266k), Fox (262k), MSNBC 104k.
• Ranks #2 in weekend (Sat/Sun) total day among adults 25-54 (174k vs. MSNBC’s 104k).
• CNN ranks #10 in ALL of cable among total viewers, the sixth straight month that CNN is a Top 10 cable news network in total viewers in total day.
• New Day had its second-highest June on record in both total viewers (497k) and adults 25-54 (164k).
• The Lead with Jake Tapper has its third-best June on record in total viewers (781k) and adults 25-54 (207k).
• The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer topped MSNBC at both 5pm (225k vs. 222k) and 6pm (241k vs. 237k) in adults 25-54. The Blitzer-led program had its second-highest June on record at 5pm and third-best at 6pm.
• Erin Burnett Outfront beat MSNBC’s Chris Matthews (275k vs. 269k) in June among 25-54. This was the program’s third highest June on record among total viewers (780k) and second highest in 25-54.
• AC 360 at 8p had its third highest June on record in total viewers (952k) and second highest among 25-54 (310k).
• CNN Tonight with Don Lemon had its second highest June on record in total viewers (1.006 million) and in the demo 25-54 (354k), following 2017.
• State of the Union with Jake Tapper and Fareed Zakaria GPS outperformed MSNBC in both total viewers and the demo 25-54 in June, and Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter topped MSNBC in 25-54 (200k vs. MSNBC’s 159k) on Sundays.

Month of June Tracker by Year

Second Quarter Median Age:
For the second quarter this year, CNN attracted an audience (61 years) that is five years younger than both Fox News and MSNBC (66 years) in total day. CNN (60 years) is five years younger than Fox News (65 years) and six years younger than MSNBC (66 years) in prime time. MSNBC is tracking at its oldest yearly median age on record in total day and prime time.

Second Quarter Out-of Home-Viewing
Second quarter in total day among adults 25-54, CNN is averaging a +4.4% lift with Out-of-Home viewers. Among ALL reportable Out-of-Home cable networks, CNN ranks #3 with 10k adults 25-54 Out-of-Home viewers, behind ESPN (25k) and TNT (16k).

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