Q3 2008: CNN’s Best in 5+ Years

By SteveK 

CNN had its best quarter in more than five years, in total day and prime time in both Total Viewers and the A25-54 demo.

The network also showed more growth year-to-year than any other cable news network in the younger demo.

Headline News also performed well, with Nancy Grace and Glenn Beck both having their best quarters ever in Total Viewers. The victory came not just for their original broadcasts at 7 and 8pmET, but also the repeats at 9 and 10pmET.

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In Q3 08, CNN had its best quarter in over five years (since the Iraq War began in early 2003) in both total day and prime time among total viewers and adults 25-54. In addition, CNN grew the most of any cable news network in both today day and prime time among the key demo adults 25-54 compared to a year ago (Q3 07), with double-digit demo increases each weekday hour from 6a to midnight (see attached chart). Viewers turned to CNN for a variety of news in the third quarter including the political conventions, two hurricanes and the ongoing turmoil in the markets. In total day, CNN delivered 714k total viewers, up 43% from 501k in Q3 07, and 250k in the 25-54 demo, up 47% from 170k. In prime time (M-Su), CNN delivered 1.346 million total viewers, up 68% from 801k in Q3 07, and 473k in 25-54, up an impressive 85% from 256k.

Throughout the month of September, CNN also showed tremendous growth compared to a year ago (Sept. 07) with triple digit gains in total day and prime in both total viewers and among adults 25-54. In total day, CNN averaged 993k in total viewers in September, up 107% from 480k a year ago, and 358k in 25-54, up 114% from 167k. In prime time (M-Su), CNN delivered 1.915 million total viewers, up 165% from 724k a year ago, and 698k in 25-54, up a staggering 181% from 248k. CNN’s gains in both dayparts surpassed those made by FNC and MSNBC and its daypart deliveries were the network’s best since September 2005 (Hurricane Katrina). Additionally, CNN posted double or triple digit gains for every hour in total viewers and the demo from 6a to midnight for the month. (see attached chart).

Headline News’ Nancy Grace and Glenn Beck had their best quarters ever in total viewers, not only for their original 7p and 8p telecasts, but also for their same-night 9p and 10p rebroadcasts. Nancy Grace at 8p attracted 924k total viewers and 355k adults 25-54, setting show records in both demos and double-digit growth over a year ago (up 67% and 85%, respectively). At 10p, Nancy Grace achieved the same feat, with a record 559k total viewers and 254k adults 25-54 (up 44% and 55% over Q3 07, respectively). Glenn Beck at 7p delivered its best total viewer quarterly audience ever with 376k (up 21% versus Q3 07). At 9p Glenn Beck posted a record 487k total viewers and 173k adults 25-54 (up 33% and 44% over Q3 07, respectively).

During the month of August, the CNN Digital Network had the highest average time per person – 35.8 minutes – among the Top 5 news and information sites. (Source: Nielsen Online Home/Work Panel) CNN Digital set other records as it served 127 million video streams, making August the highest month ever for the network’s video streams served, representing an increase in usage of 88% year-to-date. CNN.com Live served more than 6.3 million live streams during the month, quadrupling the amount of live video streams served over the prior four-week period. (Source: Nielsen Online and Omniture SiteCatalyst)

CNNPolitics.com, the online gateway to the site’s up-to-the-minute political coverage, garnered its one billionth page view since launching less than a year ago. The CNN Digital Network was the most used online news entity during both the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention. During the four days of the DNC the CNN Digital Network garnered 182.7 million usage minutes, 8.7 million more than MSNBC and 28.7 million more than Yahoo! News. During the four days of the RNC, CNN Digital also garnered 207.6 million usage minutes, 42.5 million more than Yahoo! News and 45.6 million more than MSNBC.

In regards to video, CNN.com served a combined total of nearly 32 million video streams during the days of the DNC and RNC, with 15.2 million and 16.6 million live and on-demand streams served during each convention respectively. The site’s live, multi-stream video service, CNN.com Live, served more than 5.8 million live streams during the DNC and RNC, with 2.5 million served during the DNC and 3.3 million during the RNC. On Monday, Sept. 1, the first day of the RNC, CNN.com Live more than doubled its highest day on record, serving more than 1.7 million live video streams globally. (Source: Nielsen Online Custom Data and Nielsen Online, NetView)

CNNMoney.com, CNN’s exclusive business site and the online home of FORTUNE, MONEY and FSB: FORTUNE Small Business magazines – also set a record with 818,000 unique video viewers for the month of August, which is CNNMoney.com’s highest unique viewer count ever for video.

CNN continues to reach more viewers than FNC or MSNBC with nearly 90 million tuning in during the month of September, its highest level since the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in September 2005.

P2+: CNN 89,137,000; FNC 69,620,000; MSNBC 63,322,000; HLN 59,422,000

P25-54: CNN 41,760,000; FNC 30,772,000; MSNBC 30,281,000; HLN 28,571,000