Q3 2010 Ratings: CNN’s worst month in primetime in more than a decade

By Molly Stark Dean 

The third quarter of 2010 has not been good to the cable news networks, when compared to the same quarter last year — and in September, it’s been especially bad for CNN down -29% vs. Sept. 2009. (Fox News is down -21% and MSNBC is up +1% in Total Day/Total Viewers).

Total Day (Mon-Sun): 392k total/ 120k A25-54
Prime Time (Mon-Sun): 512k total/149k A25-54

And this was CNN’s worst month in primetime in more than a decade among Total Viewers (since May 2000) and in nine years in A25-54 (since May 2001). Verses last September, “John King USA” at 7pmET is down -33% in Total Viewers and -25% in the demo; “Larry King Live” at 9pmET is down -48% in both Total Viewers and the demo; and AC360 is down -31% in both Total Viewers and the demo. But there isn’t just bad news for CNN. Their 5pm program, “Situation Room,” is up 1% in the demo from last year.

For the CNN press release


CNN Blog Network More than Doubles Since Last August, Strengthens Traffic Success


Third Quarter, 2010

CNN/U.S. reached more than 90 million viewers each month Q3 2010, while HLN reached 82 million, topping MSNBC and FNC’s third quarter average of 80 million each.

All cable new networks in Q3 2010 are down vs. the same quarter last year in both total day and primetime. Declines are more pronounced in primetime vs. total day, where all networks are down by double-digit margins among both total viewers and key adults 25-54. During head-to-head non-opinion programming (9am-5pm), CNN topped MSNBC in both total viewers (455k vs. 280k) and in the demo 25-54 (122k vs. 88k) and in total day/total viewers (393k vs. 387k).

HLN’s Morning Express with Robin Meade tops MSNBC’s Morning Joe for the sixth straight quarter among adults 25-54 and ranks second among the cable morning news shows in Q3 2010 among adults 25-54, posting the only growth (+10%) in the morning vs. a year ago with 169k.

CNN once again ranks No. 1 in believability among all news organizations including television, print and cable, according to the recently released biennial study conducted by the Pew Center for people and the Press.

HLN: September 2010

In September, HLN’s morning show, Morning Express with Robin Meade topped MSNBC’s Morning Joe for the 18th consecutive month among 25-54 viewers. Morning Express beat Morning Joe by 33% among 25-54 viewers (157k vs. 118k).

CNN: September, 2010

CNN: 89.4 million viewers Fox News: 79.1 million viewers MSNBC: 77.8 million viewers
CNN Digital: 33.3 million users Fox News: 14.4 million users MSNBC Digital: 31.8 million users
HLN: 78.8 million viewers

*Based on Monthly Unique TV Viewers in September and Latest Monthly Digital Users (August)

In September, in head-to-head comparisons with MSNBC’s daytime (9am-5pm) non-opinion programming, CNN had a 61% advantage among total viewers (456k vs. 283k) and a 37% lead among adults 25-54 (118k vs. 86k). Rick’s List topped MSNBC at both 3pm and at 4pm in the demo 25-54 – with CNN outperforming MSNBC Live (129k vs. 93k) and Dylan Ratigan (141k vs. 101k). CNN’s AC 360 also topped MSNBC in total viewers at 10p with 617k vs. 600k.
CNN grew its M-F/adults 25-54 primetime audience more than the other cable news nets compared to last month (August 2010), increasing 15%, while FNC was flat and MSNBC was up 10%. And in M-Su primetime, CNN was the only cable news net to grow in the demo vs. last month, increasing 10%, while FNC was down -1% and MSNBC was off -3%. In total day/25-54, CNN rose 2%, FNC was flat and MSNBC declined -3%.

Compared to a year ago, FNC and MSNBC’s primetime audiences are both down by double digits among adults 25-54 — with The O’Reilly Factor dropping -21% (706k vs. 895k), Countdown with Keith Olbermann is down by -19% (285k vs. 351k); at 9pm Hannity declined 30% (559k vs. 804k) and Rachel Maddow was off 1% (289k vs. 291k); and at 10pm On the Record is off -34% (408k vs. 616k) and Countdown/MSNBC Docs declined -17% (199k vs. 239k).



CNN Digital held its No. 1 position among ALL Global News and Current Event sites in several key metrics, beating sites such as MSNBC Digital, Yahoo! News and Fox News Digital.

No. 1 in Total Usage Minutes: 684 million minutes, 99 million more than No. 2 Yahoo! News and 146 million more than No. 3 MSNBC Digital.
No. 1 in Page Views: 1.038 billion page views, 42% ahead of No. 2 Yahoo! News and 65% more than No. 3 MSNBC Digital. (Source: Nielsen Online Netview, August 2010).

No. 1 in Audience among all TV News Sites: When compared to its TV News competition, CNN Digital topped them all in terms of unique audience. With 33.3 million unique visitors in August, CNN Digital’s audience was 5% larger than MSNBC Digital (31.8 million); 131% larger than Fox News Digital (14.4 million); 181% larger than ABC News Digital (11.8 million) and 242% larger than CBS News Digital (9.741 million). (Source: Nielsen Online Netview, August 2010)


CNN Digital is No. 1 in Mobile in News and Current Events for the 44th consecutive month.

With 15 million unique visitors to its mobile site in July, an increase of 15% over last July, CNN Digital beat the nearest competitor, Fox News Digital, by 57%. (Source: Nielsen Mobile MediaView – July 2010)